- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Using an early draft choice for an unusually young player can carry risks.
2010-12 Starts Before Turning 24
The upside: a potentially longer career window.
As noted earlier Thursday, the San Francisco 49ers' Anthony Davis and the Seattle Seahawks' Earl Thomas are among three players to start all 48 games over the past three seasons before turning 24. Davis has already received a contract extension. Thomas is in line for one.
The chart breaks out all others with more than 35 starts over the past three seasons before they turned 24. Rolando McClain stands out as an exception for the wrong reasons. Most of the others have met general expectations.
That doesn't necessarily mean teams should rush out to draft especially young players. In some cases, it means exceptionally talented players were good enough to attract teams' interest in the absence of college seasoning.
Four of the players in the chart have achieved Pro Bowl and first-team Associated Press All-Pro status: Thomas, Pierre-Paul, Rob Gronkowski and Maurkice Pouncey. Thomas and Pouncey have also been second-team All-Pro choices.
Using an early draft choice for an unusually young player can carry risks. 2010-12 Starts Before Turning 24 Rk. Player Tm. Starts 1 Anthony Davis SF 48 1 Earl Thomas SEA 48 1 Jason Pierre-Paul NYG 48 4 Maurkice Pouncey PIT 45 4 Alterraun Verner TEN 45 6 Rob Gronkowski NE 43 7 Joe Haden CLE 42 8 Rolando McClain OAK 41 9 Carlos Dunlap CIN 38 9 Aaron Hernanez NE 38 11 Bryan Bulaga GB 37 12 Morgan Burnett GB 36 Source: ESPN Stats & Information The upside: a potentially longer career window.