Younger players are often secret weapons for teams on offense and defense. Unlikely to draw attention from opposing coordinators, these guys make a big difference for their teams before they become full-blown stars at the NFL level.
Offense: Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Let’s set aside the weirdness and the moustache for just a minute. Pretend you don’t know that this dude dances in his jock strap as a pregame warmup. Forget about the fact that he looks and talks like Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite. When Nick Foles went down, the Jaguars were toast.
Everyone said it. I said it. I’m not sure I’d ever heard Minshew’s name until he took the ball. What’s he done since then? Well, the dude is 3-0 as a starter. He’s thrown for 900 yards in the first quarter of the season. He’s completing just under 70% of his passes. He’s thrown 7TDs to only 1 interception. He’s sporting a robust 106.9 passer rating in that time. Poin is…he’s good. Like, “Nick Foles might not have a job to come back to” good.
Defense: Nick Bosa, Edge, San Francisco 49ers
Having a big brother in the league is hard. Of course, there’s the standard sibling rivalry stuff. But there’s also more specific ribbing that happens when you’re counting sacks as bragging rights at the family dinner table. Nick Bosa hasn’t stuffed the stat sheet…yet. He’s recorded only one sack and four tackles thus far this season. But those numbers don’t tell the story that the tape does.
The younger Bosa has been exceptionally disruptive in every game he’s played. He’s the sort of player who helps his teammates by CREATING sacks, even if he doesn’t record as many. He’s also done well containing rush plays that head in his direction. It’s only a matter of time before he jumps on the stat sheet with three sacks, a forced fumble and handful of QB pressures in a single game.
Image Source: AP Images