As was the case last year, the Green Bay Packers placed just one player on Pro Football Focus’ list of the top 25 NFL players under the age of 25. That player was edge rusher Rashan Gary, who emerged as one of the game’s most disruptive pass-rushers in his third NFL season. He replaced cornerback Jaire Alexander, who turned 25 in February and is no longer eligible for the list.
The Packers still have plenty of young talent on the roster besides Gary and Alexander.
Here’s a breakdown of the Packers’ five best players under the age of 25 entering the 2022 season:
(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
C Josh Myers (23): He was the Week 1 starter at center as a rookie but missed a big chunk of the season with a knee injury. He’s a legitimate breakout candidate in Year 2.
LB Quay Walker (22): There’s a great chance he’ll be the starter next to All-Pro De’Vondre Campbell come Week 1.
QB Jordan Love (23): The talent is there, and he’s now in Year 3 behind Aaron Rodgers. Maybe it’ll finally come together this summer and show during the preseason.
DL Devonte Wyatt (24): He’s physically ready to step onto an NFL field and play a lot of snaps as a 24-year-old rookie from Georgia’s powerhouse program.
OL Royce Newman (23): He was a 16-game starter at right guard as a rookie and added weight this offseason to handle playing inside at a higher level.
No. 5: OL Jon Runyan Jr.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Runyan, a sixth-round pick in 2020, took over the starting job at left guard in Week 2 of last season and never gave it back. Counting the postseason, he played over 1,100 total snaps and allowed just 21 total pressures (two sacks) and committed just one penalty, per Pro Football Focus. Another jump in development in Year 3 could turn Runyan into one of the NFL’s best young guards. He looks like a long-term starter at either guard position.
No. 4: CB Eric Stokes
(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Stokes didn’t start in Week 1 of his rookie season but he was immediately thrown into the fire as a No. 1 cornerback when Jaire Alexander went down with a significant shoulder injury in September of last year. The Packers’ top pick in 2021 responded to the challenge. He was targeted 100 times but allowed just 6.1 yards per target and a passer rating of 79.1, per Pro Football Focus. The rookie played under control and with confidence, and his elite speed helped erase mistakes. Teams will be targeting him again in volume with Alexander back in 2022, but Stokes looks up to the challenge. His length and athleticism give him the profile of an elite corner.
No. 3: S Darnell Savage
(AP Photo/Emilee Chinn)
Savage took a step backward during his first season in Joe Barry’s defense, but he’s flashed elite ability in the recent past and is now going into his fourth season as a starter in Green Bay. There’s a chance he’ll break out again (after playing like one of the best safeties in football over the second half of the 2020 season) during the 2022 season, especially if he’s more confident, playing faster and completing more plays in his second year in the scheme. Few safeties can match Savage’s athletic ability. He now just needs to correct some of the small details and put it all together. Development as a young player at safety can sometimes be a rollercoaster ride (see: Nick Collins). The Packers will be elite in the secondary if Savage can bounce back and play like he did to end 2020.
No. 2: RB AJ Dillon
(AP Photo/AJ Mast)
The 247-pound Dillon broke out as one of the most intimidating and successful runners in football during his second season. The numbers weren’t overwhelming in 2021, but Dillon led the Packers in rushing (803 yards), caught 34 of 37 targets in the passing game and finished with 1,116 total yards and seven scores. He consistently churned out productive runs while wearing out defenses late in games. Expect more opportunity and more production in 2022. The Packers lost weapons on offense and will need players like Dillon to do more, meaning he should get more carries as a runner and more targets in the passing game. Dillon approaching 1,250 total yards and scoring 10 or more touchdowns wouldn’t be a surprise in Year 3. He’s the total package at running back.
No. 1: OLB Rashan Gary
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
The obvious pick for No. 1. Gary, the 12th overall pick in 2019, continued his ascent as a player with a breakout 2021 season. As a first-time full-time player, Gary produced 81 total pressures (third-most among edge rushers) and led the Packers with 9.5 sacks. He was the rare combo of productive and efficient as a rusher. Still only 24, Gary represents what every team wants at edge rusher: young and rapidly improving with elite athleticism and elite effort. He could be a star in the NFL for a long time.
Who is 25 or 26 years old?
Much of the team’s top talent is just reaching their prime years. The following players on the Packers roster are 25 or 26 years old:
CB Jaire Alexander (25)
DL Kenny Clark (26)
OL Elgton Jenkins (26)
CB Rasul Douglas (26)
WR Allen Lazard (26)