‘Not-Yet-Elite 11’: Ranking of Philadelphia’s Most Promising Young Talent

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Nov 23, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Josh Huff (11) returns the opening kickoff for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

While it’s debatable as to whether any of a city’s four sports teams are remotely close to title contention, the fanbase tends to look for anything to distract them from the performance of the teams that triggers such a debate. In Philadelphia, where the Flyers, Sixers, Phillies, and Eagles will all miss the postseason in their respective season for the last calendar year, I can speak from first-hand account that this is very much the case.

One of the most common practices of this type of distraction is to instead focus on the young players who have yet to establish themselves at the highest level but are showing enough promise at their current level to elicit excitement. The Sixers have based their entire culture and marketing campaign for the last two years behind this concept. Though there are two opposing factions in the franchise’s approach to team-building, it’s safe to say the organization has the city’s attention.

Young players, prospects, and draft picks represent the hope of a better tomorrow. When an athlete has yet to play at the highest level, fans (myself included) project their success against a lower level of competition to how they’ll eventually perform upon reaching the ‘major leagues’, so to speak. Often times, this is a futile practice. So rarely is it the case that a up-and-coming athlete is ever able to duplicate their effectiveness at the highest level that made them such a hope-inspiring figure in the first place. There are, however, exceptions.

There is such young talent scattered about the four Philadelphia major sports franchises. Though some organizations are richer in these prized resources than others, each one can boast at least one athlete who has yet to reach the highest level or be given the opportunity to carve out a significant role on the roster. In a city where negativity is the flavor of the week, these individuals are just as valuable, if not more, than the players currently on each team.

The following list ranks the nine current athletes that have given the city the most reason to hope for that ever-elusive ‘better tomorrow’. When putting this list together, I took into account talent level, ceiling for growth, ‘it factor’, marketability, and how that athlete could endear himself to the fanbase. Aside from those on the Eagles roster (no minor leagues in football), none of the following have played extended time at the highest level. It’s possible that none of the following will ever have the impact that will eventually be expected of them when they do suit up for the big time. For now, they are this city’s beacon of hope that will pull us out of this stretch of futility.