The NFL is a young man's league. You can't keep 'em down. According to Pro Football Reference, nearly 85 percent of players this season are younger than 30.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper and NFL Insider Mike Sando have updated their annual ranking of the NFL's best players under 25. It's cute. But old-timers like me -- they used to call us Generation X before everyone started piling on Millennials -- know there is talent throughout the age spectrum.
So let's one-up Kiper and Sando and choose the absolute, indisputable, completely rock-solid top player in each age group. We'll start with the 21-year-old rookies and finish with the 40-something kickers.
Note: We used Pro Football Reference's age designations, which are based on how old the player will be on Dec. 31, 2016.
21 years old
Elliott is on pace to become the youngest rushing champion since Edgerrin James (also 21) in 1999.
Key stat: Leads league with 1,285 yards in his first 12 NFL games.
22 years old
Cooper was born in 1994, the year Cris Carter set an NFL record with 122 receptions in 16 games.
Key stat: His 981 receiving yards rank sixth in the NFL.
23 years old
Key stat: Has 76 receptions for 1,058 yards, both third in the NFL, and 10 touchdowns.
24 years old
Key stat: Has 75 receptions, including eight touchdowns, for 1,015 yards; ranks No. 4, No. 4 and No. 5 , respectively, in NFL.
25 years old
QB Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Key stat: Has an 86.6 Total QBR in the fourth quarter, second best in the NFL.
26 years old
Rhodes has been dominant in coverage, although he has missed two games, and he's having a better (if less publicized) season than Patrick Peterson.
Key stat: Has a career-high four interceptions, tied for fourth in the NFL.
27 years old
With J.J. Watt on injured reserve, Miller is fighting off Mack as the best and most feared pass-rusher in the game -- and creates a tough bracket for fellow 27-year-olds Julio Jones, Rob Gronkowski and Earl Thomas.
Key stat: Leads NFL with 13.5 sacks in 12 games.
28 years old
Berry has resumed his role as one of the most consistent playmakers on one of the NFL's top teams, making it too tough for Geno Atkins, Antonio Brown, Richard Sherman, Dez Bryant, Matthew Stafford or A.J. Green to claim this age group.
Key stat: Tied for NFL lead with two defensive touchdowns, plus one two-point defensive conversion.
29 years old
Suh won't be reaching the sack totals of his initial seasons in the NFL, but he remains an every-down force -- he's playing 88 percent of the Dolphins' snaps -- and is a big reason the Dolphins remain in the playoff race.
Key stat: Ranked among the top five interior defenders this season by Pro Football Focus.
30 years old
Blount has become a focal point of the Patriots' Gronk-less offense; he's on pace for a career high in rushing yards at an age when most running backs are nearing their final days in the league.
Key stat: Has an NFL-leading 13 rushing touchdowns.
31 years old
Key stat: Ranks No. 3 in Total QBR (81.1).
32 years old
Thomas is the best player on the NFL's worst team, and a dozen of teams would love to acquire him.
Key stat: Hasn't missed a snap this season, or ever, in a streak that has reached 9,684 consecutive plays.
33 years old
In one of the most difficult choices here, Rodgers has the edge over Larry Fitzgerald (NFL-high 88 receptions) because of the relative difficulty level of two positions.
Key stat: Ranks No. 4 in Total QBR (77.4).
34 years old
Key stat: Ranks No. 12 in Total QBR (68.2).
35 years old
Whitworth has been one of the Bengals' few bright spots, so he beats out Philip Rivers (No. 9 in QBR) because this list doesn't have to be all skill players, right?
Key stat: Ranked as a top-five left tackle for most of this season by Pro Football Focus.
36 years old
Boldin beats out Green Bay Packers defensive end Julius Peppers, who has 6.5 sacks but has played just over half the Packers' defensive snaps. Boldin has appeared on nearly 80 percent of the Lions' offensive plays.
Key stat: Has 52 receptions and six touchdowns in 12 games.
37 years old
Brees has now been the Saints' quarterback (2006-16) for as long as Archie Manning (1971-81).
Key stat: NFL leader in passing yards (3,913) and completion percentage (71.4).
38 years old
CB Terence Newman, Minnesota Vikings
Newman gets the nod over Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who has 5.5 sacks in 12 games, because Newman is still a full-time player chasing speedy receivers 15 years younger than him. Newman has played more than 70 percent of the Vikings' snaps while Harrison has played about 50 percent of the Steelers'.
Key stat: Has seven passes defensed, one interception in seven starts.
39 years old
QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Brady is under contract until he is 42; no NFL quarterback age 42 or older has thrown for more than 1,632 yards in a season (Warren Moon, who was 42 in 1998).
Key stat: In his 17th season, Brady leads the NFL with a 19-1 touchdown-interception ratio.
40 years old
Among his teammates with the 2000 Oakland Raiders were Eric Allen, Rich Gannon, Tim Brown and Andre Rison.
Key stat: Ranks seventh in NFL in gross yards per punt at 47.7, a sign of his still-booming leg strength.
41 years old
PK Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons
Like many aging kickers, Bryant found new life with a team that plays indoors, having converted 88.3 percent of his kicks with the Falcons since moving from the Buccaneers in 2009.
Key stat: Ranks third in the NFL with 27 field goals, including three from at least 50 yards.
44 years old
Vinatieri shows no signs of slowing down, and soon it will be time to start comparing him to Hall of Fame quarterback/kicker George Blanda, who kicked until he was 48.
Key stat: Set an NFL record last month by converting his 44th consecutive field goal attempt.