The children of the NFL: League's youngest teams

Posted Oct. 27, 2012 @ 10:55 a.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

This issue of Pro Football Weekly features the senior citizens of the NFL and the longest-tenured veterans of the game. This week’s NFList will honor the biggest fear of old players — rookies and younger players, who come cheaper with more upside.

Most teams have a good balance when it comes to experience, but some teams that are in rebuilding mode — even if they won’t admit it — have built younger rosters this season. Some of the league’s best teams have relied on younger players as well, having no fear with cutting their losses with veteran players that aren’t getting the job done anymore.

Following Week One, the NFL released facts about the opening-day rosters of the 32 teams, including the oldest and youngest teams. Here’s a look at the composition of the six youngest teams in the NFL, based on active rosters in Week One, though the following descriptions are based on the active rosters heading into Week Seven.

1. Rams / Average age: 25.30 years — Jeff Fisher’s Rams team is extremely young, and different from the squad that had a 2-14 record last season. St. Louis has 14 rookies and their longest-tenured players are Mario Haggan and Quintin Mikell, both of whom have logged 10 seasons in the league. Both players are 32 and the elder statesmen of this young club. The Rams boast 31 players who are in their third year or less and 13 players who are 23 years old or younger.

2. Eagles / 25.51 years — Who would have guessed that Michael Vick is the longest-tenured NFL player on the Eagles? The starting quarterback has 11 NFL seasons under his belt. However, P Mat McBriar is the team’s oldest player, at the age of 33. With all the veterans this team has added in the past two seasons, you wouldn’t peg them as a young and spry club, but eight of the Eagles’ players are either 21 or 22 years old and they boast 10 rookies.

3. Browns / 25.55 years — The Browns top the Rams with 16 rookies on their active roster. The old man of the Browns is PK Phil Dawson, at age 37, with 14 years experience. Their top pick is a youngster, Trent Richardson, but their second first-round pick, QB Brandon Weeden, 29, is one of the oldest players on the team. There are seven Browns players that were born before Weeden.

4. Dolphins / 25.57 years — The Dolphins, who have 12 rookies, two first-year players and seven second-year players, show signs of being a rebuilding club, though they aren’t playing like one through six games. Their most seasoned veteran is one of their newest additions, WR Jabar Gaffney (11 seasons). Only four players — Gaffney, Cameron Wake, Karlos Dansby and John Denney — are in their 30s.

5. Patriots / 25.68 years — It might be a surprise to see the Patriots on this list, but Bill Belichick has employed younger players throughout the past few seasons and hasn’t been afraid to release veterans. Tom Brady, 35, is the senior citizen of the group, and the team’s best player. A majority of the Patriots (34) have four years or less of NFL experience. Eleven of their 22 starters vs. the Jets in Week Seven had three years of experience or less.

6. Packers / 25.70 years — Green Bay has four players with at least 12 years experience — Ryan Pickett, Donald Driver, Jeff Saturday and Charles Woodson. Everyone else has eight years of experience or less. Green Bay has generally built through the draft in recent years, keeping the team young, with 35 players having four years of experience or less.

T-7. Seahawks / 25.72 years — This is a team that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Some of the Seahawks’ top players this season have been rookies — QB Russell Wilson, LB Bobby Wagner and DE Bruce Irvin. The starting secondary of Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner has a combined experience of 10 seasons. Only one player on the Seahawks has at least 10 years of experience, CB Marcus Trufant, who is also the oldest player at age 31.

T-7. Vikings / 25.72 years — The Vikings have 23 players who are either rookies, first- or second-year players. CB Antoine Winfield, 35, has 14 years of experience, but no other player has more than DT Kevin Williams’ 10 years experience. Seven of the Vikings’ 53 players have reached their 30th birthday.