A fundamental part of every successful NFL team, especially the ones who play in the Super Bowl, are the team’s young players. These young players are on their rookie contracts, meaning that their cap hits are not very high, allowing the team to allocate their cap resources elsewhere. In addition, young players on rookie contracts have never been better than they are in today’s NFL. Young players can contribute right after they are drafted and only improve as the years go on. Having young pieces is a key part of the run of these two Super Bowl champion hopeful teams’ runs.
The two teams facing off in the Super Bowl are built very differently, as the Bengals are built around a rookie contract QB and a number of other cheap and young assets. On the other hand, the Rams are built on expensive and proven superstar veterans. However, those players only make up a small portion of the roster, as the rest of the team is filled with young players who also deserve significant credit for the success of the team. There is not one way to build a team, but the use of young players who can have success is vital for championship teams. We will be taking a look at key players under the age of 25 for the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams.
QB: Joe Burrow – Burrow is actually 25 years of age but it would not be right to not include him in this collection of young players. Burrow was the first overall pick in 2020 and has completely revitalized his franchise. After a season-ending injury as a rookie, he returned and has been one of the league’s best QBs. He is their most important piece for this SB run.
WR: Ja’Marr Chase – Chase is one of a large group of explosive offensive weapons that Burrow got to play with this season. Going into the 2021 NFL draft, much debate ensued whether or not the Bengals should protect Burrow by drafting an OL or reunite him with his favorite target from college, Ja’Marr Chase. They chose the ladder and have not looked back, as Chase has been the most outstanding rookie in all of football.
WR: Tee Higgins – In addition to Chase, Burrow gets to throw to another young target Tee Higgins. Higgins was the 33rd draft pick in the 2020 NFL draft and has been a consistent threat on the outside. At just 23 years old, he went for over 1,000 receiving yards.
OT: Jonah Williams – Williams was the former 11th overall pick in the 2019 draft but missed his entire rookie season. He also missed some games last year, but in 2021, the 24-year-old tackle stayed healthy and put together an impressive season. His protection of Burrow’s blindside was and is vital for the Bengals success.
Los Angeles Rams
RB: Cam Akers – Akers, who broke out in the 2020-21 playoffs, was poised for a big 2021 season before he tore his achilles in training camp. Akers freakishly returned to the Rams backfield just in time for the playoffs and looks as if he has not missed a beat. He will be a big part of their game plan on Super Bowl Sunday.
WR: Van Jefferson – Just like Akers, Jefferson was picked in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft. In a crowded receiver room, he had a difficult time carving out a role for himself. 2021 was different for Jefferson, as Matthew Stafford’s big arm and injuries to other players provided a big opportunity for him and he did not let it pass. Jefferson emerged as a reliable deep threat for Stafford and is an important piece for the team.
OL: David Edwards – Edwards was a fifth-round pick in 2019 and has been a starter for the majority of his career. He has improved each season that he has been in the league and took another step this year. He has started at guard for the Rams and his play will be important for the entire offense.
DB: Taylor Rapp – Rapp was another 2019 draft pick, as he was selected in the second round. Rapp suffered a concussion and has not played in the playoffs so far, but is still a big part of their future. Rapp and fellow safety, Jordan Fuller, who will miss the Super Bowl, are both important pieces for the Rams’ defense moving forward.