Will Youth Movement in Oakland Pay Dividends for Struggling Raiders?

For the Oakland Raiders, the 2015 NFL draft was another opportunity to get younger after having the league’s oldest roster in 2014. General manager Reggie McKenzie started the youth movement in free agency when he didn’t sign a single player over the age of 28.

The shift should pay dividends in the win column for the struggling Raiders. Getting younger doesn’t guarantee success, but it makes it a lot easier in a league where athletic ability and healing time are important indicators of success.

Unfortunately, there are far too many factors to make definitive statements about how age affects a particular roster. For example, the younger players could be pedestrian athletes or have more concerning injury histories in comparison to the older players on a particular team.


Analyzing Roster Age Trends

After going over all three years of the data compiled by Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com, there was no clear correlation between team wins and roster age. It doesn’t mean age doesn’t matter, it only means that general managers have done a good job of keeping rosters in the competitive range of 24-27.

The evidence that exits suggests that shifts in roster age can make a difference. The overall trend between change in roster age and win change was weak, but it was in the right direction. It seems that bigger shifts matter more than slight age variations.

The eight teams that decreased their average roster age by 0.5 years or more averaged 2.25 more wins than the prior year. Only one team, the 2014 Denver Broncos got worse, going from 13 wins to 12 wins.

The four teams that increased their roster age by 0.5 years or more averaged 2.5 fewer wins than the prior year. None improved compared to the prior year.

The 2014 Raiders had the third-oldest roster out of 96 teams in the data set and the largest shift in age. In other words,...

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