According to data released by the NFL this week, the Dallas Cowboys have one of the youngest and least experienced rosters in the league. It's a good reminder of an important factor that could impact their performance in the 2018 season.
Based on their Week 1 roster, the Cowboys players have an average age of 25.51 years. That is the fourth-lowest number in the league. The Cleveland Browns are the lowest at 25.19, and only the Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings are younger than Dallas.
Dallas youth isn't very surprising given the makeup of the team. Only Linebacker Sean Lee and Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur are in their thirties. If not for the 39-year-old Ladouceur, that average would likely drop them close to the Browns.
With the lack of age comes a lack of experience, and Dallas has an average of 3.55 years of NFL playing time among its roster. That's the third-lowest number in the NFL behind the Vikings and Browns.
That number is telling; the majority of Cowboys players are within their first 3-4 years in the pros. They have 21 players still on their rookie contracts, and others who would be if not for being undrafted or starting their careers with other teams.
To really get the point, just look at the names on the list of Cowboys the age of 25 or younger:
- QB Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Mike White
- RB Ezekiel Elliott
- WR Michael Gallup
- TE Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, Rico Gathers
- OL La'el Collins, Connor Williams, Adam Redmond
- DE Randy Gregory, Taco Charlton, Dorance Armstrong
- DT Maliek Collins, Antwaun Woods, Daniel Ross
- LB Jaylon Smith, Damien Wilson, Leighton Vander Esch
Chris Covington, Justin March-Lillard
- CB Chidobe Awuzie, Byron Jones, Anthony Brown
- S Kavor Frazier, Xavier Woods, Tyree Robinson
That's 30 of your current 53 players. Among that group are your starting quarterback, running back, all your tight ends, two starting offensive linemen, two starting linebackers, and all of your key defensive backs not named Jeff Heath.
So clearly, this is a very young team. It's full of guys, some at key positions, who haven't had three years of experience yet.
That isn't to say young teams can't win the NFL. But if these Cowboys appear to still be learning and developing, we need to remember just how this team is composed. They're entitled to still have some growing pains.