The Best Quarterbacks Under the Age of 25
Over the last couple of years, we have seen a great deal of quarterback talent enter the league. In this past draft alone, we saw five quarterbacks taken in the top 15 picks. We have also seen players such as Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and Eli Manning retire recently, with others such as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Ben Roethlisberger approaching the end of their careers. The new generation of quarterbacks is about to take over, and we got an early glimpse of it with Patrick Mahomes leading the Chiefs to two straight Super Bowl appearances. The influx of young talent is astounding, so lets us take a look at the top five quarterbacks under the age of 25. No quarterback from the 2021 NFL Draft will be on the list, since they haven’t taken a snap in the NFL yet.
#5: Sam Darnold (age 23)
It’s crazy to think that Darnold is only 23, as he has already completed three seasons in the NFL. While his tenure with the Jets did not go as planned, a lot could be argued on his supporting cast and coaching staff while he was in the organization. He’s shown flashes during his time with the Jets, such as this throw in 2020 against the 49ers.
However, despite the flashes, he was also incredibly inconsistent, which is one of the reasons the Jets did decide to move on from him. He has a chance for a career resurgence with the Panthers this season, with Joe Brady as his offensive coordinator, and receivers such as DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and Terrence Marshall Jr to throw to, and Christian McCaffery as his dual-threat running back. The Panthers’ offensive line has question marks, but outside of that, this was one of the better situations Darnold could have landed himself in. If he can consistently show the talent that got him drafted third overall in 2018, Darnold might find himself as the long-term quarterback for the Panthers.
#4: Joe Burrow (age 24)
While Burrow’s rookie season was cut short due to injury, he showed why he was drafted first overall in 2020 with his performance. We’re just one season removed from Burrow winning the Heisman, with one of the best seasons in college football history, and in the ten games he played last season, we saw him justify the high draft pick used on him.
The Bengals have done a good job surrounding Burrow with the skill position players he needs for success, with receivers Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tyler Boyd, along with running back Joe Mixon all being a solid supporting cast. However, while the Bengals have made moves along the offensive line, such as signing right tackle Riley Reiff and guard Quinton Spain, the group as a whole still is questionable at best. Burrow is also recovering from an ACL tear caused by the lack of protection from his line, so we can only hope that we don’t get a repeat of that this season. If Burrow is healthy the entire season, however, he should put up excellent numbers, and show the Bengals that he is the future of that franchise.
#3: Justin Herbert (age 23)
Herbert went into the 2020 NFL Draft as a polarizing prospect. Many draft pundits were put off by the inconsistencies they found on his college tape, and it resulted in a lot of variance in how people looked at Herbert. Herbert quickly proved any doubters wrong, showing the Chargers that they made the correct choice by drafting him. He went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, along with breaking records, such as the most passing touchdowns by a rookie quarterback. He did this by being one of the most pressured quarterbacks in the league, which the Chargers went out to fix this offseason.
By drafting Rashawn Slater with the 12th overall pick this draft, the Chargers completed a rehaul of their offensive line that also included signing center Elgton Jenkins in free agency. By signing tight end Jared Cook to replace Hunter Henry, and drafting receiver Josh Palmer, the Chargers have also done a great job in surrounding him with talent. Look for Herbert to only get better in his sophomore season, and down the road, be an MVP candidate.
#2: Kyler Murray (age 23)
In his first two seasons in the league, Murray has justified his selection with the first overall pick in 2019 by showing off his dynamic playmaking abilities. The 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year winner, followed it up with a 2020 season where through the first half of the season he was a dark horse MVP candidate. Murray fell off a bit in the second half of last season, but a lot of it can be attributed to a shoulder injury, as well as stale play-calling and an iffy offensive line catching up to him.
The Cardinals improved their offensive line, by trading for center Rodney Hudson, which should be a major boost for them. They also made sure that Murray has good receiving options outside of DeAndre Hopkins, by drafting Rondale Moore in the second round. If Kliff Kingsbury can improve upon himself as a coach in 2021, expect Murray to have yet another stellar season. In 2020, Murray had nearly 4000 passing yards, along with over 800 yards rushing, and 37 combined touchdowns. He has shown himself to be an electric dual-threat quarterback, as well as a great deep ball thrower when given the opportunity. After all, who can ever forget the Hail Murray play?
#1: Lamar Jackson (age 24)
Since he entered the league, Lamar Jackson has silenced the criticism around him. First, he was only a running quarterback, which he disproved in 2019 by leading the league in passing touchdowns, en-route to an MVP season. Then, it was that he couldn’t win in the playoffs, which Jackson silenced by beating the Titans last January. He’s surpassed 1000 rushing yards each of the last two seasons, while also passing for around 3000 yards in both seasons. Along with a unanimous MVP selection in 2019, he has also led the Ravens to the post-season in all three years he has played. He did all this while only turning 24 years old in January 2021.
Jackson is by far the best quarterback under the age of 25 as of right now and has already made a name for himself as one of, if not the, best rushing quarterbacks in NFL history. Jackson should only improve as a passer as the Ravens continue to add receiving weapons to their depleted core, which they have begun to do by drafting Rashod Bateman in the first round, and Tylan Wallace in the fourth. At only the age of 22, Jackson was the unanimous MVP and was voted the best player in the NFL. As he continues to age and develops, he will continue to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league.