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Jed Wills mentioned among top players under 25 years old in the NFL

While not at the top level, Wills has fans around the league

Syndication: Akron Beacon Journal Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Cleveland Browns go into their Week 13 matchup with the Houston Texans with a slim chance of hope at the playoffs this year but a lot of hope for the future. Deshaun Watson takes the top off the team’s overall ceiling, he’s that good.

The Browns have been a young team on the rise for a few seasons now. At this point, a majority of their key players are in their prime and on their second contracts. Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Nick Chubb and David Njoku, among others, are homegrown talents that have made good and cashed in.

Cleveland is not bereft of young players on rookie contracts as Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Greg Newsome II, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Martin Emerson, among others, provide some cheap youth to the roster.

GM Andrew Berry’s first draft pick is one that is hard to place into a category at this point. Jedrick Wills has shown flashes at times but is inconsistent and frustrating at others. Many compare him to Tristan Wirfs, selected a few picks behind Wills, and bemoan what could have been.

In a recent ESPN Insider piece (subscriber, $), Wirfs was ranked as the fourth-best player under 25 years old in the NFL. Andrew Thomas, who was drafted ahead of both Wills and Wirfs, is ranked 12th on the same list. Along with former #1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, the Browns left tackle got an honorable mention note:

We can make a really strong case to have Wills in the top 25 given his skill set on the edge. The lateral foot speed pops here, as do his powerful hand usage and technique. And his pass block win rate of 94.1% ranks third among offensive tackles. — Bowen

Offensive linemen are often graded harshly by fans, especially the tackles. Each sack or hold is remembered while the good blocks are barely a footnote. Much like kickers, perfection or close to it is expected. For example, Pro Football Focus has Wills giving up four sacks this year in 436 pass-blocking snaps while Wirfs has just one in 521 times pass-blocking.

Wills’ age (23) and, as noted, physical gifts mean he can continue to grow and develop. For now, he’s sniffing at being one of the top 25 young players in the NFL.

Are you surprised to see Wills listed by a national outlet as a top-level young player?