Justin Rogers and John Niyo discuss the Lions' upcoming game against the Rams and the depressing nature of covering meaningless football in December. The Detroit News
Allen Park -- When a season is going poorly, as the Detroit Lions' 2018 campaign has to this point, it's a convenient coping mechanism to look to the future, identifying the team's building blocks and figuring out hypothetical ways the franchise can build around them.
But here comes ESPN to rain on your parade. In ESPN's annual list of top 25 players under the age of 25, not one Lions player made the list.
Instead, the rankings are dominated by players on current division leaders. The Chiefs, Saints and Steelers each have three players who made the cut, while the 10-1 Los Angeles Rams have two of the top-10. The Chiefs, with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and running back Kareem Hunt, have three players in the top five.
The Lions certainly aren't without young talent. The team has a few of those building blocks under the arbitrary 25-year-old threshold, headed by running back Kerryon Johnson. That group also includes defensive tackles A'Shawn Robinson and Da'Shawn Hand and guard Frank Ragnow.
While the list doesn't include honorable mention, it's easy to imagine Johnson just missed the cut. Through 10 games this season, the rookie rusher has averaged 5.4 yards per carry and racked up more than 850 yards from scrimmage.
The ESPN list included nine running backs -- Hunt, Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Tarik Cohen, Joe Mixon and James Conner.