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TWENTYMAN: 5 Lions under 25 to watch

What has to make Detroit Lions fans so excited about the run to the NFC Championship Game in 2023 and the potential for consistent, sustained success for years to come, is the fact that the core of this football team is still extremely young.

Most of Detroit's best players are still under the age of 25 and that sets the team up for continued success as long as they draft well and add veterans along the way to an already elite core of young players.

Here's a look at Detroit's top five players under the age of 25:

1. Tackle Penei Sewell, 23

Sewell anchors arguably the top offensive line in football and is widely considered not only the top right tackle in the game today but one of the best overall tackles in the league, and he's just 23 years old.

Sewell earned his first All-Pro nod last season helping to lead Detroit's offense to top five finishes in total offense, scoring, rushing and passing. Sewell allowed one sack and just six quarterback hits playing in all 17 games last season. As a unit, Detroit's offensive line surrendered just 31 sacks with the fourth best sack rate (4.8 percent) in the NFL.

The fourth-year tackle just signed a massive extension that will keep him in Detroit through the 2029 season, when he'll turn just 29 years old.

View photos from Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown's trip to Germany including a youth football camp, neighborhood tour and more.

2. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, 24

In just three seasons, St. Brown has already established himself as one of the most consistent and productive receivers in the game today. He is just one of three players in NFL history to record 90 receptions in each of their first three NFL seasons.

St. Brown has the most receptions (315), receiving yards (3,588), first downs (191) and 100-yard receiving games (15) through a receiver's first three seasons in team history.

He ended last season with 119 receptions for 1,515 yards and 10 touchdowns and is poised for an ever bigger season in 2024 after signing a new four-year extension with the Lions this offseason that keeps him in Detroit until 2028.

3. Defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson, 23

The former No. 2 overall pick in 2022 has already established himself as one of the better pass rushers in the league off the edge. He's the first player in NFL history to produce 15.0 sacks and four interceptions in his first two seasons.

Hutchinson finished last season – his first as a Pro Bowler – first in quarterback hits (23), second in total pressures (101) and second in quarterback hurries (67), per Pro Football Focus. He also chipped in 11.5 sacks, which was top 15 in the league.

With the additions the Lions made upfront along their defensive line to help Hutchinson and the secondary expected to be much better too, Hutchinson could be in store for a monster 2024 campaign.

4. Tight end Sam LaPorta, 23

All LaPorta did in his first season in the NFL last year was set the NFL record for receptions by a rookie tight end (86). His 10 touchdown catches were the second most by a rookie tight end and his 889 yards were fourth most.

LaPorta's 86 catches last season trailed only Evan Engram (114), T.J. Hockenson (95) and Travis Kelce (93) among NFL tight ends, but his 10 touchdowns led the position with the next closest at just six scores. LaPorta also ranked first in contested catches (13), tied for second in receiving first downs (48) and third in 25-yard catches (seven).

If it's true players take their biggest leap in production from Year 1 to Year 2, just what can we expect as an encore from LaPorta in 2024?

View photos of Detroit Lions second-round pick Ennis Rakestraw Jr. from the 2024 offseason.

5. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs, 22

Gibbs and veteran David Montgomery formed arguably the best running back duo in the NFL last season, and both return to Detroit's backfield in 2024. Gibbs was just the third Lions rookie to have at least 1,000 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns in their first season, joining Barry Sanders and Billy Sims on that list.

He ranked second in the NFL with 10 rushes of at least 20 yards and his 5.19-yard average per reception was third highest among the league's running backs. Gibbs' 1,261 total scrimmage yards last year ranked fifth in team history among rookies.

Gibbs is not only one of the fastest running backs in the league, but he's also got sneaky power, leg drive and the ability to finish runs.

He's expected to be an even bigger part of Detroit's offensive attack in 2024.

Honorable mention: Defensive lineman Alim McNeill, 24

Second-year defensive back Brian Branch (23 years old) was considered in this spot as well, but McNeill means so much to a run defense that ranked No. 2 in the NFL last season that it was too hard to overlook him.

McNeill transformed his body last offseason losing a significant amount of body fat, and it helped him become stronger, faster and quicker. That led to a career-high five sacks and 10 quarterback hits. It's worth noting he missed four games late in the year due to a knee injury or those numbers could have been even better.

McNeill finished as the No. 8 highest graded interior defensive lineman in the league last season by PFF. Now joined by veteran free-agent acquisition DJ Reader along Detroit's defensive front this offseason, McNeill said all he sees from the duo in 2024 is 'destruction.'

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