Deconstructing Patriots roster by age
|05.28.13 at 7:30 am ET|
On the heels of this comprehensive piece from Mike Sando of ESPN on the average age of projected starters around the NFL — right now, the Patriots project to have the sixth-oldest group of starters, according to Sando — I decided to take a look at a few age-related pieces of information when it comes to the New England roster. With the understanding that the numbers will change between now and the start of the season — the roster currently sits at 90, and has to be at 53 before Week 1 — here are five things that jumped out at me.
‘¢ As it stands right now, the average age of the 90-man roster is at 25.3 years old. The oldest average age group is at quarterback, where the three signal-callers average 28 years old (that group includes the oldest player on the roster in Tom Brady). In addition, the linebackers and offensive line have an average age of 26. Meanwhile, the specialists, receivers, offensive line, defensive line, tight ends and defensive backs all average 25 years old. The youngest average position is at running back, where the group averages 24 years old.
As for the age difference between 2012 and 2013 when it comes to position, right now the biggest difference is at wide receiver — at this time last year, that group had an average age of 28. (That ballooned to 30 when you look at the regular-season roster.) Now, it stands at 25. The rest of the positions haven’t much changed — for example, last spring’s quarterback group also averaged 28 years old, while last year’s offensive line averaged 27, the linebackers were at 26 and the running backs averaged 25.
‘¢ Tight end Aaron Hernandez is one of the more unique athletes on the Patriots roster for several seasons, not the least of which is the fact that when he was drafted by New England in the spring of 2010, the Florida product was just 20 years old. As a result, Hernandez, who was born on Nov. 6, 1989, is barely older than many of the rookies or second-year players currently on the roster. For some comparison, rookie wide receiver Josh Boyce, who was drafted in the fourth round this spring, was born Jan. 22, 1990, which makes him just two-plus months older than Hernandez. (In that same vein, tight end Colby Fleener, who was drafted in 2012 by the Colts out of Stanford, is almost a full year older than Hernandez — he was born on Sept. 20, 1988.)
‘¢ Hernandez certainly has spent a lot of time as one of the youngest guys in the New England locker room, but right now the honor of youngest player falls to rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson, who won’t turn 22 until July 23. For some perspective, that means Dobson was 10 years old when Brady and the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams in New Orleans. The Patriots currently have 31 players on their roster who are 23 years old or younger.
‘¢ There’s always the possibility that there might be some changes in the roster between now and the start of the season, but at this point, for the second straight year, Brady figures to be the oldest guy on the roster. Brady, who was born on Aug. 3, 1977, will turn 36 before the start of the 2013 season. When it comes to quarterbacks 35 and older who won the Super Bowl, if he does win another ring, Brady would be in rare company indeed. Only four other quarterbacks have won Super Bowls after their 35th birthday: Johnny Unitas (37 when he led the Colts to a win in Super Bowl V), Roger Staubach (35 when the Cowboys won Super Bowl XII), Jim Plunkett (36 when the Raiders won Super Bowl XVIII) and John Elway (37 and 38 when he led the Broncos to Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII titles). In all, the Patriots have 11 guys 30 or older, including Brady. New safety Adrian Wilson is 33, while defensive lineman Tommy Kelly and special teamer Niko Koutouvides are both 32; offensive linemen Logan Mankins and Will Svitek and defensive lineman Vince Wilfork all are 31.
‘¢ We’ve written about this before, but when you’re talking about age, it’s important to take note of the 2012 season that running back Stevan Ridley had. The LSU product — who was drafted a year after Hernandez in 2011 but is almost a year older than him, having been born on Jan. 27, 1989 — had one of the best seasons for any running back before the age of 24. He finished with 1,263 rushing yards, the fourth-best single-season mark in franchise history. The only back in Patriots history who had a better season before the age of 24 was Curtis Martin, who ended up with 1,487 yards in 1995 at the age of 22. (At the age of 24, Jim Nance had 1,458 rushing yards with the Boston Patriots.)