The Big Lead recently compiled a list of the top 25 NFL players under the age of 25.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota slotted in at No. 3 on their list, behind Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and Houston Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson.
Here’s what they said about the former Oregon standout:
Had a case for #1 if he had built on his 2016 season, but he regressed, throwing a career-low 13 TDs and a career-high 15 INTs. Was tied for the league lead with 4 game-winning drives.
I can understand the hesitancy to put Mariota at the top of the list because of the way he seemingly “stalled” last season. But I still think he deserved it over Elliott and Watson.
There’s no denying how good Elliott is — and will continue to be — for the Cowboys. However, I believe running back is the least important position in the offense. And quarterback, obviously, is the most important position in the offense.
So why should Mariota be ranked above Watson?
Well, as impressive as Watson’s rookie season was in 2017, it only lasted seven games due to injury.
Over that seven game stretch, Watson averaged 242 passing yards per game and 38 rushing yards per game. He also averaged just over one interception per game.
Those numbers are slightly better than Mariota’s career averages. But Mariota has a much bigger sample size. He’s consistently been as good as Watson was as a rookie for a longer period of time.
We also have no idea how Watson will recover from the torn ACL he suffered last November.
I tend to think Watson will pick up where he left off last year, but there’s no guarantee that will actually be the case. There’s always the possibility that he cools off in 2018.
That’s why I think it’s a bit presumptuous to place Watson above Mariota as the top player in the NFL under the age of 25.
Featured image via UPI