Lion Youth Movement? Not So Much.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Last year the Lions suffered a double-whammy of not only being the worst team in the league but also one of the five oldest overall. While Detroit did shed a number of the older veterans that were on the opening day '08 roster, they were in large part replaced by equally old veterans. Daunte Culpepper, Grady Jackson, Bryant Johnson, Larry Foote, Julian Peterson, Anthony Henry, and Philip Buchanon are all newcomers expected to start and as a group average 31 years old.

On opening day 2008 Detroit's starters averaged 27.9 years, the 8th oldest starting corps in the league, with eight starters at 30 years or older. Projecting out the 2009 opening day starters is a little tricky, but reasonable guesses can be made.

B Johnson      28
Pettigrew      24
Backus         32
Cook           30
Raiola         31
Peterman       27
Cherilus       25
C Johnson      24
Culpepper      32
Felton         23
K Smith        22

Avril          23
Darby          33
Jackson        36
White          29
Sims           24
Foote          29
Peterson       31
Buchanon       29
Bullocks       26
Delmas         22
Henry          32
The ages are as of 9/30/09. I'm sure some of The Den faithful might argue with Darby or possibly Cook, but it is equally likely a veteran player like Devries starts in place of Avril or that Kevin Carter supplants Darby so overall the average wouldn't be affected much either way.

The average age of the projected offensive starters right now is 27.1 years. Defensive starters 28.5 years for a composite 27.8 overall average, an overall decline in average age of 0.1 years. With this lineup Detroit would go from eight starters aged 30+ to seven.

It also isn't clear that the bench will be much younger than last year. Younger players such as Dan Orlovsky, Gerald Alexander, Shaun Cody, and Anthony Cannon were allowed to leave while older backups such as Eric Hicks (33), Terrelle Smith (31), Cody Spencer (28), Marquand Manuel (30), Ephraim Salaam (33), Jon Jansen (33), Ronald Curry (30), and Dennis Northcutt (31) acquired to replace them. While it is unlikely that all of these veterans make the team, it seems clear that Mayhew and Schwartz intend to rely heavily on greying veterans to bridge the gap to their rebuilding plan. It is very possible that this year's version of the Lions is even older than the '08 flavor that rapidly broke down and lost effectiveness.

Ongoing discussion Here in The Den