One of the reasons so many people are high on the future of the Detroit Lions is their young core of young talent. Thanks to a lot of draft capital and a focused strategy by general manager Brad Holmes, the Lions have moved on from a ton of veteran players, continued to acquire young talent, and given those young players plenty of game experience over the past two years.
Football Outsiders really highlighted that point this week with one of their unique metrics: snap-weighted age. Like it sounds, the metric measures the average age of each team’s players, but weighs it by the amount of snaps each player had. This way, they’re capturing the true age of a team’s performance, so that if they’re carrying a 38-year-old veteran backup quarterback or a 40-year-old long-snapper, it isn’t skewing the results.
In 2022, the Lions didn’t just have the youngest roster in the NFL—averaging 25.28 years old—but it was the fourth-youngest team Football Outsiders has recorded using this metric, dating all the way back to 2006. Not so coincidentally, the 2021 Lions are fifth on that list, averaging 25.33 years old.
Football Outsiders does a good job of separating the results by side of the ball and individual positions. Of note, the Lions had the youngest defense (24.8) and the sixth-youngest offense (25.7). Their youngest individual positions were edge rusher (23.9), tight end (24.5), and defensive back (24.6).
The Lions will likely remain toward the top of this list again in 2023, as they added six rookies in the first three rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft, several of whom are expected to be heavy contributors right away. Even the Lions’ free agent additions who are set to play significant roles in 2023 remain relatively young, including C.J. Gardner-Johnson (will be 25 when the season starts), David Montgomery (26), Emmanuel Moseley (27), and Cameron Sutton (28).