Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Closer look: Offensive starter projections
By Mike Sando
Much thanks to @groomoo for delicately suggesting we take a more detailed look at the recently published average ages for projected NFL starters.
He wanted to see actual average ages, not just rankings. The information can be difficult to absorb across multiple columns, so we'll break out offenses and defenses separately. The chart shows average ages for projected offensive starters, subject to change during training camps and the preseason.
A few thoughts on the numbers for NFC West teams:
- Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals are the only team in the division with an older starting quarterback. Carson Palmer is the fourth-oldest projected starting quarterback behind Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Top quarterbacks endure. One question with Palmer is to what degree serious injuries have affected him. Arizona's projected starting offensive line comes in just under the league average for age, with guard Daryn Colledge the only starter in his 30s. Jonathan Cooper and Bobby Massie are not yet 24. At receiver, Larry Fitzgerald will be turning 30, but that's OK. He's in his prime. And with Michael Floyd in the lineup with him, Arizona comes in just under the NFL average for age at the position.
- San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers had the NFL's youngest starting offense in Week 1 of the 2010 season at 25.27 years old on average. Six of the starters from that 2010 opener remain starters for the team. The list includes Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore, Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Vernon Davis and Anthony Davis. The 49ers' offensive starters now rank ninth at 27.95 years old, with much of the increase attributed simply to the passage of time. The average will fall once the 49ers move on from Gore, Anquan Boldin and Jonathan Goodwin.
- St. Louis Rams: Only the 49ers' 2010 offensive starters were younger than their Rams counterparts. Sam Bradford and Rodger Saffold are the only starters from that 2010 opener still in the lineup for St. Louis. The current Rams would have the NFL's youngest projected offensive starters by far if they didn't have the third-oldest starting offensive line. We should expect the Rams to draft and/or sign a younger starting offensive linemen next offseason. Most of the other young pieces are in place.
- Seattle Seahawks: Michael Robinson's presence in the lineup at fullback gives Seattle the fourth-oldest starting running backs on average. It's a young man's game, especially at running back. But with quite a few teams going without fullbacks at all, the Seahawks' average at the position is inflated some. Still, the Seahawks drafted two running backs this year, one of them a potential fullback, with an eye toward the future. Robinson and potential starting guard Paul McQuistan, both 30, are the only projected starters older than 27. Top receiver Percy Harvin turns 25 this month. Quarterback Russell Wilson won't be 25 until Nov. 29.