More Sports:

May 18, 2015

Eagles age inventory, Part I: Offensive skill positions

Eagles NFL
051815JordanMatthews John F. Rhodes/AP

Jordan Matthews leads the youngest wide receiver corps in the NFL.

With the NFL's free agency period and the draft in the books, NFL teams will continue to tweak their rosters, but for the most part, we can make educated guesses at this point on who each teams' projected starters will be. With that in mind, let's take some inventory on Eagles' players' ages, broken up by positional groups, starting with the offensive skill positions.


Here are all 32 of the NFL's projected starting quarterbacks in 2015: 

Age rank Player Team Birthday Age 
 OldestPeyton Manning Broncos 3/24/1976 39 
 2Tom Brady Patriots 8/3/1977 37 
 3Drew Brees Saints 1/15/1979 36 
 4Josh McCown Browns 7/4/1979 35 
 5Carson Palmer Cardinals 12/27/1979 35 
 6Tony Romo Cowboys 4/21/1980 35 
 7Eli Manning Giants 1/3/1981 34 
 8Philip Rivers Chargers 12/8/1981 33 
 9Ben Roethlisberger Steelers 3/2/1982 33 
 10Matt Cassel Bills 5/17/1982 33 
 11Jay Cutler Bears 4/29/1983 32 
 12Aaron Rodgers Packers 12/2/1983 31 
 13Alex Smith Chiefs 5/7/1984 31 
 14Joe Flacco Ravens 1/16/1985 30 
 15Matt Ryan Falcons 5/17/1985 30 
 16Brian Hoyer Texans 10/13/1985 29 
 17Andy Dalton Bengals 10/29/1987 27 
 18Colin Kaepernick 49ers 11/3/1987 27 
 19Sam Bradford Eagles 11/8/1987 27 
 20Matthew Stafford Lions 2/7/1988 27 
 21Ryan Tannehill Dolphins 7/27/1988 26 
 22Russell Wilson Seahawks 11/29/1988 26 
 23Nick Foles Rams 1/20/1989 26 
 24Cam Newton Panthers 5/11/1989 26 
 25Andrew Luck Colts 9/12/1989 25 
 26Robert Griffin III Redskins 2/12/1990 25 
 27Geno Smith Jets 10/10/1990 24 
 28Derek Carr Raiders 3/28/1991 24 
 29Blake Bortles Jaguars 12/16/1991 23 
 30Teddy Bridgewater Vikings 11/10/1992 22 
 31Marcus Mariota Titans 10/30/1993 21 
 YoungestJameis Winston Buccaneers 1/6/1994 21 

From a league-wide perspective, the above chart shows that 46.9% of the NFL's projected starting quarterbacks are over the age of 30. Kickers, punters and long snappers aside, that is by far the highest percentage in the NFL. In you want to have a long career in football, be a quarterback. That's good advice for getting girls, too.

Once you get below the age of 30 on the above list, there aren't many good, proven quarterbacks. There's Russell Wilson, who benefits from an elite run game and the best defense in the NFL, and Andrew Luck. Beyond Luck and Wilson, it's a collection of players who have varying degrees of "potential," which is a polite way of saying "Ain't done much yet." Sam Bradford is a player with "potential."

Bradford is the 19th oldest projected starting quarterback in the NFL. For those of you down on Bradford as your team's starter, there is some consolation in that the best quarterbacks in today's NFL are old fogies. However, the counter-argument to that is that nine of the twelve Super Bowls that were won by the quarterbacks listed were won when they were 27 years of age or younger:

Quarterback Age when they won 
Peyton Manning 30 
 Tom Brady24, 26, 27, 37 
 Drew Brees30 
 Eli Manning26, 30 
 Ben Roethlisberger23, 26 
 Aaron Rodgers27 
 Joe Flacco27 
 Russell Wilson25 

Many of the best NFL quarterbacks had serious injuries, and went on to play extraordinarily well after their recoveries. The Eagles hope Bradford can recover from his two torn ACLs. But in terms of age, while it feels like Bradford has been around for a long time, he is only a little more than year older than Nick Foles. If Bradford can stay healthy, which is an enormous "if," there is certainly time for him to become a good pro QB.

Running back

Here are all 32 of the NFL's projected starting running backs in 2015. To note, I also included Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews, just to show where they would rank by comparison:

Age rank Player Team Birthday Age 
 OldestFrank Gore Colts 5/14/1983 32 
 -Darren Sproles Eagles 6/20/1983 31 
 2Adrian Peterson Vikings 3/21/1985 30 
 3Rashad Jennings Giants 3/26/1985 30 
 4Justin Forsett Ravens 10/14/1985 29 
 5Matt Forte Bears 12/10/1985 29 
 6Marshawn Lynch Seahawks 4/22/1986 29 
 7Joique Bell Lions 8/4/1986 28 
 8Arian Foster Texans 8/24/1986 28 
 9LeGarrett Blount Patriots 12/5/1986 28 
 10Jamaal Charles Chiefs 12/27/1986 28 
 11Jonathan Stewart Panthers 3/21/1987 28 
 -Ryan Mathews Eagles 5/1/1987 28 
 12Darren McFadden Cowboys 8/27/1988 27 
 13DeMarco Murray Eagles 2/12/1988 27 
 14Chris Ivory Jets 3/22/1988 27 
 15LeSean McCoy Bills 7/12/1988 26 
 16Alfred Morris Redskins 12/12/1988 26 
 17Doug Martin Buccaneers 1/13/1989 26 
 18Andre Ellington Cardinals 2/3/1989 26 
 19Mark Ingram Saints 12/21/1989 25 
 20Eddie Lacy Packers 1/1/1991 24 
 21C.J. Anderson Broncos 2/10/1991 24 
 22Latavius Murray Raiders 2/21/1991 24 
 23Lamar Miller Dolphins 4/25/1991 24 
 24Carlos Hyde 49ers 9/20/1991 23 
 25Le'Veon Bell Steelers 2/18/1992 23 
 26Devonta Freeman Falcons 3/15/1992 23 
 27Bishop Sankey Titans 9/15/1992 22 
 28Jeremy Hill Bengals 10/20/1992 22 
 29Isaiah Crowell Browns 1/8/1993 22 
 30Melvin Gordon Chargers 4/13/1993 22 
 31T.J. Yeldon Jaguars 10/2/1993 21 
 YoungestTodd Gurley Rams 8/3/1994 20 

As noted above, if you want to have a long NFL career, be a quarterback. Don't be a running back.

• Average age of the 32 projected starting QBs in 2015: 29.06

• Average age of the 32 projected starting RBs in 2015: 25.72

Only four projected starting running backs are over the age of 30, and none are 33 years of age or older. Chip Kelly doesn't seem to care about age in running backs. The Eagles traded for Darren Sproles, who would be the second oldest back on the list above, and they tried to acquire Frank Gore, the oldest player on the list.

DeMarco Murray is the 13th oldest projected starting running back on the list above. While his age isn't a concern at this time, the fact that he is coming off a season in which he had nearly 500 touches is. To be determined if he is the same player he was a year ago in Dallas.

Wide receiver

Here are all 32 of the NFL's projected starting wide receivers in 2015. While collecting data for this exercise, figuring out who was each team's third wide receiver was often very difficult. I consulted with writers for the teams in question for most of the questionable third receivers listed below, but I'll bet that there will be disagreement on some of the choices below. Apologies in advance.

For the Eagles, I used Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, and Josh Huff, although that is certainly up for debate. It is not a lock that Riley Cooper will even be on the roster, while it is with Huff. I think the Eagles would love to see Huff earn that third spot in training camp, and ultimately, I think he will. But to be clear, that is merely a projection.

Age rank Player Team Birthday Age 
 OldestSteve Smith Ravens 5/12/1979 36 
 2Anquan Boldin 49ers 10/3/1980 34 
 3Andre Johnson Colts 7/11/1981 33 
 4Malcom Floyd Chargers 9/8/1981 33 
 5Roddy White Falcons 11/2/1981 33 
 6Jerricho Cotchery Panthers 6/16/1982 32 
 7Devin Hester Falcons 11/4/1982 32 
 8Vincent Jackson Buccaneers 1/14/1983 32 
 9Jason Avant Chiefs 4/20/1983 32 
 10Marques Colston Saints 6/5/1983 31 
 11Nate Washington Texans 8/28/1983 31 
 12Larry Fitzgerald Cardinals 8/31/1983 31 
 13Greg Jennings Dolphins 9/21/1983 31 
 14Brandon Marshall Jets 3/23/1984 31 
 15Dwayne Bowe Browns 9/21/1984 30 
 16Andre Caldwell Broncos 4/15/1985 30 
 17Jordy Nelson Packers 5/31/1985 29 
 18Calvin Johnson Lions 9/29/1985 29 
 19Danny Amendola Patriots 11/2/1985 29 
 20Andrew Hawkins Browns 3/10/1986 29 
 21Eddie Royal Bears 5/21/1986 28 
 22Julian Edelman Patriots 5/22/1986 28 
 23Stevie Johnson Chargers 7/22/1986 28 
 24Mike Wallace Vikings 8/1/1986 28 
 25Pierre Garcon Redskins 8/8/1986 28 
 26Brandon LaFell Patriots 11/4/1986 28 
 27Victor Cruz Giants 11/11/1986 28 
 28Brian Hartline Browns 11/22/1986 28 
 29DeSean Jackson Redskins 12/1/1986 28 
 30Eric Decker Jets 3/15/1987 28 
 31Emmanuel Sanders Broncos 3/17/1987 28 
 32Louis Murphy Buccaneers 5/11/1987 28 
 33Michael Crabtree Raiders 9/14/1987 27 
 34Demaryius Thomas Broncos 10/25/1987 27 
 35Cecil Shorts Texans 12/22/1987 27 
 36Andre Roberts Redskins 1/9/1988 27 
 37Hakeem Nicks Titans 1/14/1988 27 
 38Jeremy Ross Lions 3/16/1988 27 
 39Jeremy Maclin Chiefs 5/11/1988 27 
 40Percy Harvin Bills 5/28/1988 26 
 41Antonio Brown Steelers 7/10/1988 26 
 42Kenbrell Thompkins Raiders 7/29/1988 26 
 43A.J. Green Bengals 7/31/1988 26 
 44Golden Tate Lions 8/2/1988 26 
 45Kenny Britt Rams 9/19/1988 26 
 46Doug Baldwin Seahawks 9/21/1988 26 
 47Dez Bryant Cowboys 11/4/1988 26 
 48Nick Toon Saints 11/4/1988 26 
 49Jeremy Kerley Jets 11/8/1988 26 
 50Torrey Smith 49ers 1/26/1989 26 
 51Julio Jones Falcons 2/3/1989 26 
 52Cole Beasley Cowboys 4/26/1989 26 
 53Brian Quick Rams 6/5/1989 25 
 54Mohamed Sanu Bengals 8/22/1989 25 
 55Terrance Williams Cowboys 9/18/1989 25 
 56Kendall Wright Titans 11/12/1989 25 
 57T.Y. Hilton Colts 11/14/1989 25 
 58Jarius Wright Vikings 11/25/1989 25 
 59Michael Floyd Cardinals 11/27/1989 25 
 60Jermaine Kearse Seahawks 2/6/1990 25 
 61Alshon Jeffery Bears 2/14/1990 25 
 62Marvin Jones Bengals 3/12/1990 25 
 63John Brown Cardinals 4/3/1990 25 
 64Quinton Patton 49ers 8/9/1990 24 
 65Randall Cobb Packers 8/22/1990 24 
 66Kelvin Benjamin Panthers 2/5/1991 24 
 67Markus Wheaton Steelers 2/7/1991 24 
 68Tavon Austin Rams 3/15/1991 24 
 69Corderralle Patterson Vikings 3/17/1991 24 
 70Marlon Brown Ravens 4/22/1991 24 
 71Rueben Randle Giants 5/7/1991 24 
 72Justin Hunter Titans 5/20/1991 23 
 73Josh Huff Eagles 10/14/1991 23 
 74Allen Hurns Jaguars 11/12/1991 23 
 75Marqise Lee Jaguars 11/25/1991 23 
 76Martavis Bryant Steelers 12/20/1991 23 
 77Robert Woods Bills 4/10/1992 23 
 78Kenny Stils Dolphins 4/22/1992 23 
 79Keenan Allen Chargers 4/27/1992 23 
 80DeAndre Hopkins Texans 6/6/1992 22 
 81Kevin White Bears 6/25/1992 22 
 82Jordan Matthews Eagles 7/16/1992 22 
 83Tyler Lockett Seahawks 9/28/1992 22 
 84Odell Beckham Jr. Giants 11/5/1992 22 
 85Jarvis Landry Dolphins 11/28/1992 22 
 86Davante Adams Packers 12/24/1992 22 
 87De'Anthony Thomas Chiefs 1/5/1993 22 
 88Nelson Agholor Eagles 5/24/1993 21 
 89Sammy Watkins Bills 6/14/1993 21 
 90Donte Moncrief Colts 8/6/1993 21 
 91Mike Evans Buccaneers 8/21/1993 21 
 92Allen Robinson Jaguars 8/24/1993 21 
 93Breshad Perriman Ravens 9/10/1993 21 
 94Brandin Cooks Saints 9/25/1993 21 
 95Devin Funchess Panthers 5/21/1994 21 
 YoungestAmari Cooper Raiders 6/18/1994 20 

Over the last few years, there has been an absolute explosion of talent to enter the NFL at the wide receiver position. A staggering 45.8% of NFL teams' #1, #2 and #3 receivers are currently 25 years of age or younger. Only 16 of 96 (16.7%) 1-2-3 WRs are 30+ years old. Compare that with 15 of 32 (46.9%) of starting quarterbacks who are 30+ years old.

Of this extremely young positional group, no NFL team is younger at their 1-2-3 WRs than the Eagles, who currently average 22 years of age, narrowly edging out the Jaguars (22.3).

Obviously, the Eagles released DeSean Jackson, the 29th oldest 1-2-3 WR in the NFL, and let Jeremy Maclin (39th) walk in free agency, which undoubtedly helped prompt the Eagles to use quite a bit of their draft resources on the position the last two years.

 PlayerYear Round Overall 
 Nelson Agholor2015 20 
 Jordan Matthews2014 42 
 Josh Huff2014 86 

In 2014, from the day he walked into the NovaCare Complex after he was drafted until the final game against the Giants, Matthews worked almost solely out out the slot. He almost never lined up outside.

As a rookie he excelled in his role, catching 67 passes for 872 yards and 8 TDs. It would be foolish for the Eagles to use their best receiver in a role that would limit his snaps to three wide receiver sets. It appears the Eagles see it that way too. Zach Berman of the Inquirer talked to Matthews , who confirmed that his role will increase in 2015:

"I think you would think that I might get a whole lot more outside reps now just because Maclin is gone, but I already had talked to coaches, and they were already going to implement me more on the outside as opposed to just the inside regardless," Matthews said. "I don't think that's a crazy, huge deal."

The Eagles have a young and intriguing set of receivers, although obviously, Agholor is a rookie and Huff didn't see the field much in 2014. The Eagles think very highly of both players. They reportedly turned down an offer from the Broncos, who wanted to trade up to the Eagles' spot at 20, but the Eagles opted to draft Agholor instead of acquiring more picks. As for Huff, there are some with the Eagles who think he has a higher ceiling than Matthews. Obviously, Matthews has a far higher floor.

If this trio pans out, the Eagles will be set at wide receiver for a long time. If not, they'll be using more valuable resources on this group. I would lean toward the former.

Tight end

Here are all 32 of the NFL's projected starting tight ends in 2015. To note, I included both Brent Celek and Zach Ertz, just to show where they would rank by comparison:

Age rank Player Team Birthday Age 
Oldest Antonio Gates Chargers 6/18/1980 34 
 2Benjamin Watson Saints 12/18/1980 34 
 3Jason Witten Cowboys 5/6/1982 33 
 4Heath Miller Steelers 10/22/1982 32 
 5Owen Daniels Broncos 11/9/1982 32 
 6Vernon Davis 49ers 1/31/1984 31 
 7Delanie Walker Titans 8/12/1984 30 
 8Brent Celek Eagles 1/25/1985 30 
 9Brandon Pettigrew Lions 2/23/1985 30 
 10Greg Olsen Panthers 3/11/1985 30 
 11Gary Barnidge Browns 9/22/1985 29 
 12Garrett Graham Texans 8/4/1986 28 
 13Jimmy Graham Seahawks 11/24/1986 28 
 14Martellus Bennett Bears 1/10/1987 28 
 15Jared Cook Rams 4/7/1987 28 
 16Julius Thomas Jaguars 5/14/1988 27 
 17Jordan Cameron Dolphins 8/7/1988 26 
 18Coby Fleener Colts 9/20/1988 26 
 19Andrew Quarless Packers 10/6/1988 26 
 20Larry Donnell Giants 11/1/1988 26 
 21Charles Clay Bills 2/13/1989 26 
 22Rob Gronkowski Patriots 5/14/1989 26 
 23Travis Kelce Chiefs 10/5/1989 25 
 24Kyle Rudolph Vikings 11/9/1989 25 
 25Jordan Reed Redskins 7/3/1990 24 
 26Tyler Eifert Bengals 9/8/1990 24 
 27Mychal Rivera Raiders 9/8/1990 24 
 -Zach Ertz Eagles 10/10/1990 24 
 28Levine Toilolo Falcons 7/31/1991 23 
 29Jace Amaro Jets 6/26/1992 22 
 30Austin Sefarian-Jenkins Buccaneers 9/9/1992 22 
 31Troy Niklas Cardinals 9/18/1992 22 
 32Maxx Williams Ravens 4/12/1994 21 

Brent Celek's receptions, yards, and first down catches have declined (or stayed the same) in each of the last four years.

 Brent CelekCatches Yards First downs 
 2011 62 811 35 
 201257684 32 
 2013 32 502 22 
 2014 32 340 16 

Celek is the best blocking tight end on the team, but his blocking ability doesn't warrant the $5 million he'll count against the cap in 2016 if he continues to be less and less productive as a receiver. There's a strong argument to be made that Zach Ertz should start in favor of Celek in 2015, but he probably won't. But obviously, at 24 years of age, Ertz is a another young weapon to complement the Eagles' young receiving corps.

Next up: The offensive line (GASP!)

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski