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Youth Movement In The Works For Cowboys O-Line?

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Two days ago I received an email from my good buddy JimmyK, whom many of you may know as a writer for Bleeding Green Nation, and more recently, for his own blog called Blogging the Beast. In the mail, Jimmy sent me a big Excel file that contained the ages of every single projected O-line starter for every team in the NFL.

JimmyK does this exercise every year, and up until this year, he has taken a malicious delight in pointing out the average age of the Cowboys O-line, which has led the league for the past two years running. But as Jimmy explains on his new blog - much to his chagrin and my delight - that is no longer the case this year.  

"Who’s the new team to hold the title of the oldest in the NFL now, you might ask?  That honor now goes to none other than the Cowboys’ NFC East rival, the New York Giants." 

"The Cowboys, with the addition of Smith, moved from the oldest in the NFL to 6th overall."

After the break, we look at just how old the Cowboys O-line is and look at some age-related line-up scenarios.

According to JimmyK's research, the Cowboys O-line will be an average of 29 years, 4 months and 5 days old on the probable first Sunday of the season on September 11. By comparison, the Giants O-line will be positively ancient (boy, that felt good to write) on opening day with an average age of 31 years, 11 months and 1 day. Also ahead of the Cowboys are the Lions, Patriots, Falcons and Bengals.

The Cowboys line-up used for the age calculation consists of Free, Kosier, Gurode, Davis and Tyron Smith in for Marc Colombo. Clearly, the additions of Free and Smith to the line-up are what is driving the age down. Consider the average ages for the Cowboys O-line at the start of each of the seasons below:

2009: 31 years, 6 months, 7 days
2010: 30 years, 9 months, 14 days
2011: 29 years, 4 months, 5 days

But make no mistake about it, the interior of the Cowboys O-line is not getting any younger. So let's look at a couple of scenarios.

Let's assume for argument's sake that the Cowboys sign a guard in free agency like the 27-year old Justin Blalock from the Falcons to replace Leonard Davis, who'll be 33 on opening day. That would drop the Cowboys' average O-line age further down to 28 years, 3 months and 16 days. That would rank the Cowboys the 14th oldest O-line in the league, or just about average. Not a bad place to be considering we had the oldest line for two straight years.

Now let's assume the Cowboys start with Davis, but his play quickly deteriorates, much like it did last year. After about midseason, the Cowboys have enough confidence in their fourth round pick David Arkin and plug him in at right guard. Granted, two rookies on the right side of the line is a little scary, but this is not a completely inconceivable scenario. With the addition of the 23-year old Arkin, the average age would further drop to 27 years, 6 months and 12 days, which would rank the Cowboys 24th, or - get this - among the ten youngest O-lines in the league.

Instead of talking about a couple of old greybeards on the Cowboys' O-line all the time, we'd be talking about a young and talented O-line with some veteran presence as a stabilizing factor. 

I like the sound of that.