The 2016 NFL season began in style as teams took their first steps toward the postseason, and the top performers have already emerged in the first half of the year.
The top 10 is a look at the most promising young players on the roster and how they’ll be able to impact the game in the coming years.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys (via the team) The Cowboys’ breakout season was as much about the young receivers as it was about the Cowboys’ young quarterback.
The 6-foot-3, 209-pound Bryant finished with more than 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in his first season with the team.
He led the NFL with 20 receptions for 268 yards and three touchdowns.
He also set the franchise record for receptions by a rookie in 2015 with 577.
DeZ Bryant leads the NFL in receiving yards with 1,965 and total touchdowns with 771.
Bryant has also become a threat to catch passes from any quarterback, and he’s a threat in the red zone as well.
His 10 touchdowns against only five interceptions were a sign of things to come.
Kevin White, DT, New York Giants (via team) A year ago, White was a third-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
He struggled in his rookie season, but he’s back to his best in 2016 with the Giants, leading the team in sacks (nine) and forced fumbles (two).
White is still developing as a pass rusher, but the Giants have been able to put him in position to succeed in the middle of the field, where he has the potential to become a force.
Tyler Lockett, CB, Philadelphia Eagles (via NFL Network) Lockett became the first player in NFL history to record a franchise-record three interceptions in a single game, a feat he accomplished against the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 17.
He finished with seven interceptions, tied for the most in franchise history.
The Eagles gave him a chance to become more aggressive, allowing him to make more plays in the pocket.
Jarius Wright, WR: Arizona Cardinals (via ESPN) Wright became the second receiver in NFL History to catch five touchdown passes against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, joining Brandon Marshall.
Wright became only the second player in franchise lore to accomplish the feat.
The other was Marshall in 2010.
Josh Gordon, WR/TE, Pittsburgh Steelers (via league) Gordon has been a productive receiver throughout his career.
He was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons with the Steelers and was named first-team All-Pro in 2014.
His season in 2015 was derailed by a knee injury, but Gordon had a breakout campaign in 2016.
He had six touchdown receptions, including two in the playoffs.
Ty Montgomery, RB, Baltimore Ravens (via The MMQB) Montgomery is one of the best backfields in the league.
He has had success on special teams, and Montgomery is a perfect complement to Joe Flacco, who has a strong receiving corps and great running backs.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins (via USA Today) Tannehhill has become one of football’s best quarterbacks, and this season, he’s helped his team stay afloat in a tough NFC South.
Tannehouse has thrown for more than 2,400 yards, 38 touchdowns, and just one interception in the last two seasons.
The Dolphins are 5-1 in the postseason with Tannehr’s accuracy and ability to get the ball to his receivers.
Josh Doctson, WR (via Dallas Cowboys) Doctson is the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy since Michael Irvin in 2010, when the winner went on to win it.
Doctson became the best wide receiver in the NFL when he won the Heisman, and it was a huge win for the Cowboys.
Docton is a dangerous deep threat with speed and hands, and his ability to take on the top receiver in his division has helped the Cowboys make a run at a division title.
Kenny Britt, RB (via Denver Broncos) Britt was a big part of the Broncos’ surge in the AFC West and the Broncos were able to win back-to-back division titles after losing to the San Diego Chargers in the Super Bowl.
Britt has played in every game since the Broncos went 4-8 in 2015, averaging 5.6 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
Michael Thomas, WR / TE (via New England Patriots) Thomas was the Patriots’ first-round draft pick in 2014, but injuries and a lack of consistent production have made him one of their worst players since.
Thomas had a disappointing rookie season and struggled to establish himself in the Patriots offense, but his skill set could give him an opportunity in a crowded wide receiver corps.
Tyler Boyd, CB (via Baltimore Ravens) Boyd has spent most of his career with the Ravens, and a lot of his success was on special team