Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Who has NFL's oldest, youngest starters
By Mike Sando
NFL teams have not yet named Week 1 starters, but with most positions settled or relatively easy to project, I've calculated average age ranks on each side of the ball.
This is a follow-up to the item published Sunday showing average ages for full rosters. Those projections reflected the presence of many mostly young players unlikely to earn spots on 53-man rosters.
The rankings shown in the chart at right reflect those players most likely to earn starting jobs in Week 1.
Teams are usually looking for a balance of youth and experience.
Having older starters can be a good thing for a winning team seeking to keep continuity.
The San Francisco 49ers have the oldest projected starting defensive line in the NFL, but it's a sensational line featuring Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Isaac Sopoaga. Those players continue to play at a high level. But the 49ers, having missed on 2008 first-round defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer, will need to develop younger starters before too much longer.
Less accomplished teams with older rosters can be prone to massive overhauls that bring down coaches and executives, not just players.
That was the case with the St. Louis Rams last season. While they had a number of young core players, they filled holes in their roster with quite a few aging vets, bumping their average age to among the NFL's highest.
Injuries struck, the schedule was tougher than anticipated, the Rams finished 2-14 and massive changes ensued.
St. Louis now has the NFL's youngest roster overall. The Rams' starters rank eighth-youngest (or 25th-oldest, as the chart displays the rankings).
While Seattle ranks 20th-oldest in overall roster age after adding veterans such as Deuce Lutui, Barrett Ruud, Antonio Bryant and the re-signed Marcus Trufant, the Seahawks have the second-youngest starters in the league. That includes the fourth-youngest defensive starters and eighth-youngest offensive starters (with Matt Flynn penciled in at quarterback and Doug Baldwin at receiver).
Note: Thanks to Ourlads for the depth charts they maintain so vigorously. I consult them regularly and also use my own judgment in making projections.