Detroit Lions' 25-and-under talent second-best in NFL, Football Outsiders' report says
Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 12:00 PM
By Josh Slagter | email@example.com
The Detroit Lions have some of the best young talent in the NFL. That much is obvious to most football observers who see Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh on all the highlight shows.
Danny Tuccitto and Rivers McCown of Football Outsiders think that trio, combined with others, is the best in the NFC, though.
In a piece for ESPN.com, Tuccitto and McCown did their annual organizational rankings for 25-and-under players and have the Lions at No. 2 overall, behind only the New England Patriots.
Here was their criteria:
• The number of games in 2011 started by players under the age of 25
• Whether or not a team's young starters last season were simply injury replacements
• The number of 25-or-younger first-team All-Pros a team has on its roster
• The extent to which a team's 25-and-under talent plays impact positions in the passing game
• Whether or not a team has a talented, young quarterback
• The amount of value a team added in the 2012 draft
• A team's recent track record of developing and retaining young talent
While Johnson's critical to the Lions' offense, others give Detroit long-term promise, too.
"Although Calvin Johnson is the obvious lynchpin, the growth of second-year slot receiver Titus Young (23) and the return of injured running backs Jahvid Best (23) and Mikel Leshoure (22) should allow Detroit's offense to maintain -- if not improve -- its No. 10 DVOA from last season," Tuccitto and McCown wrote.
Tuccitto and McCown also noted the value of safety Louis Delmas.
"Delmas doesn't get his hands on too many balls (three passes defensed and zero interceptions the past two seasons), but he also doesn't get beat deep. His value was on full display in the last six games of last season, when the Lions' pass defense basically fell apart without him," they wrote.
The rest of their top five rounded out with the Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers.
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