Best Value NFL Youngsters of 2017

With the 2017 regular season in the books, we’ve compiled a list of the best-value NFL players from each position who are currently on their entry-level (rookie) contract with their respective team.

Total Roster Cap: $41,430,838
Offense: $19,646,748
Defense: $20,787,495
Kicker/Punter: $996,595

Carson Wentz (QB, PHI, $6,062,804)

Wentz’s completion percentage slipped a bit in 2017 (60%), but the rest of the numbers across the board were simply fantastic. His injury-shortened season finished with 33 TD, 7 INT, and a 102 rating in 13 starts. Wentz will carry a $7.2M cap figure into 2018, after which the Eagles are eligible to extend him.


Kareem Hunt (RB, KC, $658,988)

Hunt finished 2017 with a league-leading 1,327 rushing yards. Toss in another 455 in the passing game (53 receptions) and a combined 11 TDs and the Chiefs appear to have found a weapon of value in the 3rd round. Hunt holds cap hits of $778k, $872k, & $975k through 2020.


Alvin Kamara (RB, NO, $708,193)

Kamara started 2017 3rd on the depth chart behind Ingram & Peterson. He’s now a Top 3 RB in all of football. The rookie totaled 1,554 yards from scrimmage, including a whopping 81 receptions and 13 TDs. The #67 overall pick last spring holds cap hits of $878k, $1.05M, & $1.2M through 2020.


Tyreek Hill (WR, KC, $586,260)

The 2nd-year weapon out of West Alabama was the explosive piece the Chiefs offense has been lacking over the past decade. He finished 2017 with 1,242 yards from scrimmage, 75 receptions, 7 TDs, and a near 16 yard per reception average. He’ll account for cap hits of just $705k, & $797k through 2019.


Michael Thomas (WR, NO, $1,163,403)

Thomas raised his own bar after an outstanding 2016, finishing the year with 104 receptions, 1,245 yards, and 5 scores for a “run-first” Saints offense. The 2nd-round pick out of Ohio State has an NFL-record 196 catches through his first two seasons, and holds cap hits of $1.4M & $1.6M through 2019.


Hunter Henry (TE, LAC, $1,450,069)

Henry’s production slipped a bit from his outstanding rookie campaign, but he still amassed 45 grabs, 580 yards and reeled in nearly 73% of his targeted in 2017. With Antonio Gates’ future a major question mark, Henry’s role could increase heavily over the next two seasons, where he holds cap hits of $1.7M & $2M.


Taylor Lewan (OT, TEN, $3,654,319)

Lewan has started all 32 of the Titans regular season games over the past two seasons, and has rounded into a Top 15 tackle over that span. He’s set to play out a $9.341M 5th-year option in 2018 which guarantees on March 14th. A long-term extension is likely this offseason.


Zack Martin (OG, DAL, $2,853,391)

The Cowboys spent plenty of high draft picks to build the stout offensive line they now possess, but the chickens are coming home to roost soon on all of them financially. Martin holds a calculated market value north of $13M per year, putting him in a spot to become the highest paid NFL guard. Until then, he’s set to play out a $9.341M 5th-year option in 2018.


Ali Marpet (OC, TB, $1,029,160)

Marpet has now posted back-to-back strong seasons at the center of the Bucs offensive line. The 2nd-round-pick out of Hobart, carries a $1.2M cap figure in 2018, the final year of his rookie contract. He’s a definite extension candidate.


Shaq Mason (OG, NE, $725,881)

Mason has been consistently solid on the right side of the Pats offensive line over the past two seasons. The 2015 4th-round pick out of Georgia Tech represents another value-add for New England, as Mason carries an $815k cap figure in 2018. He’s a strong extension candidate this March.


Daryl Williams(OT, CAR, $754,280)

The 4th-round pick out of Oklahoma has improved exponentially across his first three NFL seasons in Carolina. He finished 2017 a Top-3 tackle in all of football according to PFF, and holds a strong-value $844k cap figure in 2018. Carolina will look to lock up their young lineman this summer.


Aaron Donald (DT, LAR, $3,225,250)

Donald followed up an 8 sack, 2 forced fumble, 36 tackle 2016 campaign with 11 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 32 tackles in just 14 2017 games. He’s arguably the best defensive player in all of football and has reeled in “just” $10M over his first four seasons with the Rams. Donald holds a calculated market value nearly double that figure ($19.5M), and is scheduled to account for $6.892M in 2018.


Grady Jarrett (DT, ATL, $676,963)

Jarrett isn’t asked to rush the pass much in the Falcons sceme, but he’s developed into an excellent run-stopper in Atlanta. He’s nearly doubled all statistical categories since 2015, and holds a strong-value $766k cap hit in 2018, the final year of his contract.


DeMarcus Lawrence (DE, DAL, $1,752,116)

The 2nd-round selection out of Boise State had a breakout season to finish out his rookie contract with Dallas. Lawrence compiled 14.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 36 tackles in 2017, good enough for a Top 5 rating among all edge defenders. He’ll likely cost north of $14M for a new deal this spring.


Yannick Ngakoue (DE, JAX, $819,085)

The Jaguars have a steal in their 2016 3rd-round pick out of Maryland. Nagakoue has now compiled 20 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, and 44 tackles in his first two seasons, and holds cap hits of $945k, and $1M through 2019.


Jadeveon Clowney (OLB, HOU, $7,086,863)

After a miserable first few seasons, Clowney appears to be rounding into the player the Texans were looking for. He finished 2017 with 9.5 sacks, 41 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and most importantly – 16 games played. He’s set to play out a $13.8M 5th-year option in 2018. He holds a calculated market value of $15.5M heading into the offseason.


 Reuben Foster (ILB, SF, $1,642,783)

Foster missed 6 weeks due to injury, but when healthy was all the tackling machine he was hyped up to be pre-draft. The 49ers felt so good about his short-term future they parted ways with All-Pro NaVorro Bowman mid-season. Foster will account for cap hits of $2M, $2.4M, & $2.8M through 2020.


Joe Schobert (OLB, CLE, $698,489)

After being non-existent in 2016, Schobert exploded for 85 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and a pick in 2017. He’s poised to hold down the edge across from Myles Garrett in the short-term, carrying cap hits of $788k, & $878k through 2019.


Marshon Lattimore (CB, NO, $2,792,647)

After a slew of tough draft picks and free agent busts, the Saints needed a win in the secondary. Lattimore isn’t just that – he’s a potential defensive rookie of the year. The #11 overall pick out of Ohio State compiled 43 tackles, 5 INTs , and a forced fumble in his first season, and holds cap hits of $3.4M, $4.1M, & $4.8M through 2020.


Kendall Fuller (CB, WAS, $737,106)

The Redskins paid an awful lot of money for Josh Norman, but Fuller stole the show in Washington’s secondary this season. The 3rd-round pick out of Virginia Tech pulled in 42 tackles, 4 INTs, and a forced fumble in his 2nd seasons, and carries cap hits of $827k & $929k through 2019.


Adrian Amos (FS, CHI, $673,070)

Amos has been consistently solid at the backend of the Bears’ defense since 2015, and posted his best season to date in 2017 (60 tackles, 1 INT, 2 FF). The 5th-round pick out of Penn State holds a meager $763k cap hit in 2018, the final year of his rookie contract.


Justin Simmons  (SS, DEN, $683,123)

Simmons had big shoes to fill when Denver cut ties with T.J. Ward last offseason. He did well to hold down the ship until an ankle injury cut his season short. The 3rd-round selection out of Boston College should be a nice value for the Broncos at $805k, $896k through 2019.


Jake Elliott (K, PHI, $437,647)

Philly took a chance on the Bengals 5th round pick and were rewarded handsomely. Elliott hir 84% of his FGs, including 17 from 40+ and 5 from 50+. He’s under contract at $555,000 through 2018.


Lac Edwards  (P, NYJ, $558,948)

The Jets 7th-round selection in 2016 averaged 46 yards a punt, including 33 inside the opponent’s 20 yard line and just 4 touchbacks across 94 punts. Only Brad Wing (NYG) punted more this season.

2018 NFL Top Salaries & Cap Hits
2018 NFL Team Cap Tracker

Category: NFL Free AgencyNFL Spots


Article by: Michael Ginnitti

Managing Editor of Spotrac