NFL Nation: roster analysis


Some starting jobs will change hands when NFL players compete during training camps this summer. Most are relatively easy to project based on factors such as past production, health and 2013 draft status.

With that in mind, I've gone through rosters to calculate average ages for projected starters on offense and defense.

The chart ranks NFL teams from oldest to youngest for all starters. Overall rankings appear in the final column. Rankings for offensive and defensive starters appear in the middle columns.

Some of the rankings will change as starting jobs settle out. That is why there's an asterisk next to the word "projected" in the headline above.

In general, though, we can see the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks fielding younger starting lineups than their NFC West rivals are fielding.

I would expect Arizona's starters to get younger over the next year as the team continues to develop younger players.

The Rams, though young overall, have the third-oldest projected starting offensive line in the league after adding Jake Long to a group featuring Scott Wells and Harvey Dahl. Drafting a starting lineman next year could make sense for St. Louis in that context.

The depth charts at Ourlads.com were helpful in filling out lineups for some teams. I went with O'Brien Schofield and Karlos Dansby instead of their projections for Arizona at linebacker. There were some other changes as well, and I'm sure you could find others.

We'll revisit these as the information firms up. For now, though, we've got at least a general feel. And yes, the defensive starters for Cleveland and St. Louis tied in average age at 25.263636, improbable as that seems when calculating ages to the day.

Update: NFL roster turnover since 2009

November, 18, 2010
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The Seattle Seahawks are making their way through "Turnover Thursday" with a league-low 23 players on their 53-man roster from last season.

Turnover, indeed.

The chart, based on information from rosters I maintain for every team in the league, shows how many players from 2009 Week 17 rosters and injured reserve lists now reside on the same teams' 53-man rosters (but not IR). The numbers measure turnover and attrition -- by design, injuries, etc.

The bottom line: Seattle has the freshest 53-man roster in the league. The team has subtracted Red Bryant (IR), Deion Branch (trade), Julius Jones (released), Leroy Hill (IR), Mansfield Wrotto (released) and Max Unger (IR) since the 2010 regular season began.

NFC West leaning on young offenses

November, 13, 2010
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NFC West teams own three of the NFL's 10 youngest offensive rosters heading into Week 10.

The chart shows to-the-day age averages for offensive players, ranked from youngest to oldest and based on rosters updated late in the week. The information is based on rosters I maintain for every team in the league.

The St. Louis Rams (fifth youngest), Arizona Cardinals (eighth) and San Francisco 49ers (10th) rank among the 10 youngest. The Seattle Seahawks rank 21st on the list of youngest offensive rosters (starters and backups). I've included their averages in the 11th row of the chart.

St. Louis, Arizona and San Francisco are significantly younger than NFL averages at wide receiver. They are also younger at quarterback.

Arizona's offensive linemen are oldest in the league on average. The team has veteran backups.

NFC West positional counts at initial 53

September, 4, 2010
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The fun is only beginning for NFC West teams after the mandatory reduction to 53 players Saturday.

Teams will continue shuffling their rosters as the Sept. 12 regular-season openers approach.

For now, though, we've gotten some answers. The chart shows positional counts for NFC West teams on the initial reduction to 53.

Counts for defensive linemen and linebackers vary by scheme.

The Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams might be able to use another offensive lineman (teams generally carry nine). The Seattle Seahawks appear light at linebacker after releasing Tyjuan Hagler and placing Leroy Hill on the reserve/suspended list.

Seattle might be inclined to keep only two quarterbacks. The team could sign one to its practice squad and/or bring back J.P. Losman later if an injury creates a need.

Baltimore Ravens cutdown analysis

September, 4, 2010
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Check here for a full list of Baltimore’s roster moves.

Biggest surprise: The biggest name on this list, and perhaps in the AFC North, is backup quarterback Troy Smith. He nearly had Baltimore's starting job two years ago but an illness knocked him out of the running and opened the door for starter Joe Flacco. The Ravens were open to trading Smith but couldn’t find a suitor. Shayne Graham was the preseason favorite to win Baltimore’s kicking job after signing as a free agent. But after a stiff competition in training camp and the preseason, incumbent Billy Cundiff edged Graham, who statistically is one of the NFL's most accurate active kickers. Receiver Demetrius Williams was another surprise.

No-brainers: Tight end Davon Drew's fate was sealed early when the Ravens drafted two rookies at his position high in the draft. Todd Heap, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta all looked solid this preseason, making Drew expendable. Cornerback Travis Fisher was another player who had an opportunity to show what he can do. Because of injuries, Fisher spent a brief time with the starters this summer but played poorly and didn’t take advantage. Baltimore also pulled off a trade for backup linebacker Antwan Barnes with the Philadelphia Eagles for a conditional draft pick. The Ravens were deep at linebacker and gained back a pick for next year that they lost to the Seattle Seahawks recently in the Josh Wilson trade.

What’s next: Baltimore may scan the waiver wires to see if there’s any hidden gems available in the secondary. Cornerback depth is always welcomed on the Ravens and safety Ed Reed going on the physically unable to perform list makes adding another safety an option. Otherwise, Baltimore’s roster is stacked and ready to go. It’s time for the Ravens to prepare for their Week 1 showdown with the New York Jets on "Monday Night Football."

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