The NFC West is sending two seasoned teams (San Francisco, Arizona) and two very young ones (Seattle, St. Louis) into Week 1.
Bernie Miklasz and I discussed the implications during our conversation on 101ESPN St. Louis this week. Here's the audio for those interested.
The chart below breaks down projected 2012 starters by age range.
Arizona has the NFL's fewest in the 25-29 range. The Cardinals have promising young players such as Ryan Williams and Patrick Peterson, but some of their core players are getting older and will need to be replaced before much longer (as the case was already with O'Brien Schofield taking over for Clark Haggans).
Seattle has the NFL's fewest players 30 and older. Coach Pete Carroll pointed to age Wednesday when explaining Kellen Winslow's recent release. Winslow is 29 and has played in 92 games. His replacement, Evan Moore, is 27 and has played in 33 games.
"We're not just thinking about the immediate," Carroll said. "We’re one of the youngest teams in the NFL for a reason and that’s a big deal to us. We want to continue to build for the future and always have our eye on that. Going with a guy that’s in great shape and younger, we felt as if we could make a good exchange and get the production that we need."
St. Louis has the youngest roster in the NFL by average age. The Rams' totals below reflect rookie Rokevious Watkins as a potential starter at left guard.
NFC West teams have seven rookies as projected starters: Bobby Massie at right tackle for Arizona; quarterback Russell Wilson, guard J.R. Sweezy and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner for Seattle; and Watkins, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and defensive tackle Michael Brockers for St. Louis.