In week 16 running back Adrian Peterson broke 1,000 yards rushing for the eighth time in his career. Peterson also passed Eric Dickerson to move into eighth place in all-time rushing yards. At the start of training camp Peterson was not in any team’s camp. The 33 year old back was training this past summer just in case a team called him. Then when rookie running back Derrius Guice got injured the Redskins brought in Peterson in mid-August. Peterson went on to show that he still has it.
That gave me the idea of this post on the oldest active star at each position and the youngest rising star at that position. Each player is shown with their team and their age.
Tom Brady, NE, 41
Brady is fourth in career passing yards and needs 1,700 yards to move past Favre and Peyton Manning into the number two spot. He is third in career passing touchdowns. He can move past Peyton Manning with 26 more touchdowns. Brady is fourth in Career Game Winning Drives, just 3 behind Dam Marino. Brady is second in career comebacks, eight behind Peyton Manning.
Lamar Jackson, BAL, 21
Lamar Jackson is the third youngest quarterback on an NFL roster.
Lamar Jackson has six starts and has a quarterback record of 5-1. He has completed 58% of his passes and has six passing touchdowns to three interceptions. His quarterback rating is 84.9, he has one game winning drive and a long completed pass of 74 yards. Lamar is a dual threat quarterback and has 605 rushing yards on 127 attempts. He is averaging 4.8 yards per rush attempt and has three rushing touchdowns. Lamar has 10 fumbles of which he recovered 5. He has the most rushing yards of any quarterback even though he has only started six games.
Update: On Sunday, Lamar Jackson will start at quarterback for the Ravens in a playoff game against the Chargers. Jackson will be the first quarterback in NFL history to start a postseason game before turning 22.
Frank Gore, MIA, 35
Frank Gore is the oldest active running back in the NFL. The oldest running back to play was fullback Ken Strong who last played for the NY Giants in 1947 at age 41.
On January 1st, 2017 Frank Gore became the oldest running back in 32 years to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Gore is fourth on the list of career rushing yards. He needs 522 yards to pass Barry Sanders and move into third place. Gore averaged 4.63 yards per carry in 2018 which was 20th in the NFL.
Saquon Barkley, NYG, 21
Saquon Barkley is the fifth youngest running back on an NFL roster.
Saquon Barkley needs 114 all purpose yards in his season finale to join Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James as the only rookie running backs to have 2,000+ yards from scrimmage. For the 2108 season Barkley is top ten in almost all running back statistics. Barkley is third in rushing yards (1,198), fifth in rushing touchdowns (10), fifth in long rush (78), tenth on yards per rushing attempt (4.9), fourth in rushing yards per game (79.9), fourth in touchdowns (14) and third in All-Purpose yards (1,886). His 1,886 yards from scrimmage is 98th of all time.
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI, 35
Larry Fitzgerald is the oldest active wide receiver. He is 46th on the list of oldest playing receivers. Jerry Rice is the oldest receiver to play and he played to the age of 42. He played most of his career with the 49ers but retired after playing for the Seahawks.
Fitzgerald is third in career receptions (1,299) and needs 27 more to pass Tony Gonzalez for the number two spot. Larry Fitzgerald is second in career receiving yards (16.243) and only topped by Jerry Rice (22,895). He is seventh in career receiving touchdowns. Fitzgerald has been selected to the Pro-Bowl eleven out of his fifteen seasons.
D.J. Moore, CAR, 21
D.J. Moore is the second youngest wide receiver on an NFL roster.
Moore’s 879 yards from scrimmage is the most by a rookie receiver this year. His 82 yard reception week 11 against the Lions is the fifth longest reception in the league this season. Moore’s 68.9% catch percentage is the highest of all 2018 rookie wide receivers with 500+ receiving yards and the 17th highest by a rookie since 1991 with 500+ receiving yards. Pro Football Focus has DJ Moore the top graded rookie wide receiver as of week 16. He is currently the leader to break the highest Yards After the Catch (YAC) per reception by a rookie wide receiver with a minimum 200 receiving snaps. Moore has 8.2 YAC/Reception and the leader is Hakeem Nicks in 2009 with 9.23.
Antonio Gates, LAC, 38
Antonio Gates is the oldest active tight end and the third oldest to play of all time. The oldest tight end to play was Trey Junkin who last played for the 2002 NY Giants at age 41.
Antonio Gates is sixth for career receiving touchdowns (116). He is 2nd Team Pro Football Hall of Fame All-2000 Team. He has been selected to eight Pro Bowls and is a three-time First Team All-Pro. Through 15 weeks of the 2018 season Pro Football Focus has Antonio Gates ranked as 10th among 69 qualifying players at the position.
Evan Engram, NYG, 24
Evan Engram is not one of the youngest players at tight end. However he is one of the best active tight ends under 25.
Evan Engram was selected for the 2017 NFL All-Rookie Team. As a rookie he caught 6 of 8 red-zone targets for 5 touchdowns. Over his first two seasons he has caught 8 touchdown passes. No other active tight end under 25 has caught more. Comparing per game stats of Evan Engram to all top tight ends under 25, Engram has the highest receptions per game and highest yards per game.
Andrew Whitworth, LAR, 37
Andrew Whitworth is the oldest active tackle in the NFL. The oldest tackle to play was John Nesser who played guard and tackle. John played his last in 1921 at the age of 45.
Andrew Whitworth made the NFL Top 100 list twice including in 2018. He has been selected to four Pro-Bowls with the last one in 2017. Whitworth is two-time First Team All-Pro with the last selection in 2017. About six years ago, Whitworth began studying the careers of older linemen and found that as most aged, they became overweight and their bodies failed to move like they once did. To combat that he watches his diet but mostly he is into training. This past offseason, Whitworth’s workouts included CrossFit, mixed martial arts, power lifting, interval training and running. Through three weeks in 2018 Pro Football Focus had Whitworth as the top graded offensive tackle.
Braden Smith, IND, 22
Braden Smith is the sixth youngest offensive tackle in the NFL. Through this his rookie season Smith has played in 14 of the 15 games and started 12. Braden starts at right tackle. Through 14 weeks Pro Football Focus has Braden Smith as the third best rookie offensive lineman and the second best tackle. According to PFF he has allowed just 22 total pressures which is tied for fourth fewest among qualifying offensive linemen. Braden Smith made the NFL 2018 All-Rookie Team. The site thecomeback.com has Braden number nine in their rookie power rankings and the highest offensive tackle.
Marshal Yanda, BAL, 34
Marshal Yanda is the oldest active guard in the NFL. As mentioned prior John Nesser was the oldest player to play guard and he played to the age of 45.
Marshal Yanda has been selected to the Pro Bowl in seven of his last eight seasons missing only in 2017 when he was injured and played only 2 games. Prior to his injury in 2017 Yanda was Pro Football Focus’s top-ranked guard for three straight seasons. He is a two time First Team All-Pro and made the NFL top 100 list for four years.
Will Hernandez, NYG, 23
Will Hernandez started all 15 games so far as a rookie in 2018. Hernandez made the Pro Football Focus Mid-Season All-Rookie Team as the highest graded guard and the third highest offensive lineman. Hernandez and Quenton Nelson made the NFL 2018 All-Rookie Team as the guards. Hernandez has only three penalties compared to Nelson who has eight.
Alex Mack, ATL, 33
Alex Mack is the third oldest active center in the NFL. The oldest center to play in the NFL was Jeff Van Note. He retired 1986 from the Atlanta Falcons at the age of 40.
Alex Mack made the 2009 NFL All-Rookie Team and was selected for six Pro-Bowls including each of the last four seasons. At the conclusion of the 2016 NFL season Mack was selected by Pro Football Focus as the best center over 30 years old. Alex Mack was ranked as the 18th best offensive lineman and fifth best center in the 2018 season by Pro Football Focus.
No Young Center
There were not any exceptional centers under age 25 that stood out. If redshirt sophomore center Tyler Biadasz of Wisconsin declares, he may be the new up and coming center.
Julius Peppers, CAR, 38
Julius Peppers is the oldest active defensive end in the NFL. The oldest player to play at Defensive End was Jim Marshall who last played for the Vikings in 1979 at the age of 42.
Julius Peppers was selected to nine Pro-Bowls and is a three time First Team All-Pro. Peppers has 172 career tackles for Loss which is second all time. He has 52 career forced fumbles which is second all time. Three more forced fumbles would pass Robert Mathis and give Julius Peppers the most forced fumbles. Peppers has 158.5 career sacks which is fourth all time. Two more sacks would pass Kevin Greene into third place. According to Pro Football Focus Julius Peppers has 88 games with four or more pressures since 2006, which is tied for the most for all defensive players in that span. Peppers wants to be more remembered for impacting lives – on and off the field, rather than his sacks.
Myles Garrett, CLE, 22
Myles Garrett is the eighth youngest active defensive end. In 2017 he made the NFL All-Rookie Team. He was selected to the 2018 Pro-Bowl. In 2018 Garrett has 3 forced fumbles (10th) and 12.5 sacks (6th). By week 12 of the 2018 season Garrett had generated 50 pressures (4th among edge defenders). In the week 12 game he generated 12 pressures. At that time only two other players generated that many pressures in a game (they generated 13). Garrett had 29 quarterback hits on the year which is tie for fourth most.
Kyle Williams, BUF, 35
Kyle Williams is the oldest active defensive tackle in the NFL. He is completing his 13th season. Leo Nomellini was one of the oldest defensive tackles to play. He played for the 49ers to age 39. Nomellini was named to the NFL’s all-time team as a defensive tackle.
Kyle Williams has been selected to five Pro-Bowls and twice made the NFL Top 100 list. In a 2016 article Pro Football Focus named Kyle Williams as the Bill’s best player of the last decade (2006-2015). In 2018 Kyle Williams was selected as a Pro-Bowl alternate.
UpDate (12/28/18) : The Bills announced that Kyle Williams will retire after this season
Da’Ron Payne, WAS, 21
Da’Ron Payne is the second youngest active defensive tackle in the NFL. He has started every game in his rookie season. Among rookie defensive tackles Payne has the most quarterback hits (8) and is tie for most tackles for a loss (6) and sacks (5). Among rookie defensive tackles he is second in solo tackles (30). After eight weeks into the season Pro Football Focus had Da’Ron Payne with the highest rookie run stop percentage among defensive line and edge rookies.
Terrell Suggs, BAL, 36
Terrell Suggs is the oldest active linebacker in the NFL. Junior Seau was the oldest linebacker to play the position. He last played for the Patriots in 2009 at the age of 40.
Terrell Suggs was the 2003 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. He has been selected to seven Pro-Bowls and is a 2011 First Team All-Pro. Suggs heads the list of career tackles for a loss with 193 which is 21 more than the second place player. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF) at 36 years young, Suggs ranks 16th in pressure percentage (13.3) with 51 total pressures across his 383 pass-rush snaps. In the week 16 win of the Ravens over the Chargers Suggs Topped the defenders with a PFF 92.5 game grade. He logged a season-best eight total pressures (one hit and seven hurries).
Leighton Vander Esch, DAL, 21
Leighton Vander Esch is the fourth youngest active linebacker in the NFL. He was the NFC Defensive Player of the week in week 10. Esch has 99 solo tackles (2nd) and 131 combined tackles (3rd). He leads all rookie linebackers in interceptions (2) and is second in passes defended (7). Through the first six weeks of the season Esch is Pro Football Focus’s second highest graded rookie and their top graded linebacker. He remained their top graded rookie linebacker thru week 15.
Johnathan Joseph, HOU, 34
Jonathan Joseph is the fourth oldest active cornerback. Darrell Green was the oldest cornerback to play. He last played for the Redskins in 2002 at the age of 42.
Jonathan Joseph has been selected to two Pro-Bowls. He has a career 7 interceptions returned for a touchdown which is 11th in career history. Joseph has 181 career passes defended which is fifth in career history. Three more passes defensed and Joseph moves into third.
Denzel Ward, CLE, 21
Denzel Ward is the youngest active cornerback in the NFL. He has been selected to the Pro-Bowl this his rookie season. Ward made the NFL all rookie team and the PFF Mid-Season All Rookie Team.
Eric Weddle, BAL, 33
Eric Weddle is the fourth oldest active safety in the NFL. He has played for 12 seasons. Charles Woodson was the oldest playing safety. He last played in 2015 for the Raiders at the age of 39.
Eric Weddle has been selected for six Pro-Bowls and is a two-time First Team All-Pro. He has started every game since transferring to the Ravens in 2016. According to Pro Football Focus in 2017 Eric Weddle led safeties in percent of targets intercepted (25%) for safeties with 15+ targets.
Derwin James, LAC, 22
Derwin James is the tenth youngest active safety in the NFL. He has started every game in his rookie season. He is tie in second for most interceptions (3) by a rookie. James leads all rookies in passes defensed (13) and is tie at ninth in the league. He is second among rookie defensive backs in solo and combined tackles. James is first among rookie defensive backs in sacks (3.5) and tie for first among the rookie DBs in tackles for loss (4). His 3.5 sacks is tie for first among all defensive backs. James’s passes defensed (13) accounts for 18.8% of the teams and his Solo Tackles (70) accounts for 11% of the team solo tackles. Both are good percentages especially for a rookie.
Adam Vinatieri, IND, 46
Adam Vinatieri is the oldest active player in the NFL. He is the third oldest of all time. The next older player is kicker Morten Andersen who last played for the Falcons in 2007 at the age of 47. The oldest player is quarterback/kicker George Blanda who finished his career as a kicker and last played for the Raiders in 1975 at the age of 48.
Adam Vinatieri has played 23 seasons in the NFL for two teams. He was on the 1996 NFL All-Rookie Team and made the Pro Football Hall of Fame 1st Team All-2000s Team. Adam has been selected to three Pro-Bowls and was First Team All-Pro three times. Vinatieri is number one in career points scored (2,591), number two in career playoff games (30) and number two in Extra Point Made (849). Adam has a career 98.037% extra point percentage. He is number one in Total Field Goals made (580) and has a career 84.302% on field goals. That field goal percentage is 16th of all time.
Michael Dickson, SEA, 22
Michael Dickson is the third youngest kicker in the NFL. He has played in 15 games and has 71 punts for 3,429 yards. He has averaged 48.3 yards per punt which is fourth best in the league. Dickson has a long punt of 69 yards which is the fourth longest in 2018. His 48.3 yard average is 27th best all time. In November Dickson was the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month. Last year in college Dickson won MVP in the Texas Bowl. Michael Dickson is the first rookie punter to be selected for the Pro Bowl since 1985. In a game against San Francisco he kicked a 65 yard punt and dropped two more at the 1 and 2 yard lines in 20 mph winds.
These “old-timers” are still performing at an incredible level in a sport that demands excellence. They can only do so with dedication to the sport. These young players have exhibited some of the skill, athleticism and dedication that made these older players great. These young players can learn a lot from the veterans. With that same dedication they can quote from Neil Young’s song “Old Man” – “Old man look at my life, I’m a lot like you were.”
Enjoy the Week 17 Games and have a Happy New Year!!