We're looking at the best Bengals players that are 25 years and younger -- an exploratory look at just young some of Cincinnati's superstars are. First my list, then yours.
Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard: It's hard to comprehend just how young these running backs are. Hill turns 23 years old this October and Bernard hits 24 in November. It makes sense for the Bengals to rely their offensive philosophy on these two, keeping their legs fresh with a balanced rotation this year... perhaps even prolonging their careers by avoiding sustained collisions of those 300-400 carry-seasons. "I don't think (Hue Jackson will) wear either one of us out, so that way we can make it through all 16 games for a playoff push," said Hill this week.
Vontaze Burfict: Despite the issues that Cincinnati's top linebacker had last season, Burfict stormed onto the scene with reckless abandonment. What made him a tackling machine and Pro Bowler (2013), impacted 2014 with a series of concussions. Because there's a sense of uncertainty with Burfict, maybe he doesn't belong on this list anymore. However, we're going to give him the benefit of the doubt. If there's a player with the mental aggressiveness to return, it's Burfict.
Kevin Zeitler: It's a matter of time before Zeitler is recognized as one of the top offensive guards in the NFL. Pro Football Focus graded Zeitler as the team's second-best offensive player (behind Andrew Whitworth) and fifth-best right guard (ninth-best overall). The Bengals triggered his fifth-year extension earlier this month, keeping the potential pro bowler in Cincinnati through 2016.
George Iloka (25): Let's not confuse one thing... I'm a huge fan of Iloka. The attitude and swagger that he's bringing should translate into a leadership role when the team's veterans begin phasing out. Iloka, rated by Pro Football Focus as the Bengals top defender last year, had a 42.1 opposing passer rating -- quarterbacks rating when throwing to receivers who Iloka was covering.
Honorable Mention: Dre Kirkpatrick, Marvin Jones, Darqueze Dennard, Ryan Hewitt, Tyler Eifert.