Breaking Down the 53 Man Rosters

While there may still be a little juggling of NFL rosters in the next 48 hours I wanted to take a look at some different aspects of the team now that most of the teams have their final rosters set for the year. Since we are still waiting on some key contracts to come in we will hold off on the financials until a little later this week but here are a few different aspects of the rosters in the NFL.

Rosters By Age

The average age of the NFL rosters this year is just 26.07 years old without QB’s and 26.17 with QB’s. It is clearly a young mans game with over 50% of the NFL no older than 25 this year. Here is the breakdown by age group.

Not including QB’s,  the oldest team in the NFL will be the Bears with a roster just under 26.9 years old. They are tied with the Ravens for the second most 30+ year old players with 13. The Saints lead the NFL in that category with 15.  The Dolphins will have the youngest team in the NFL at 25.16 years and just 1 player over 30. The Rams, Vikings, Browns, and Jaguars all come in no older than 25.5 in 2020.

TeamAvg. Age W/O QBAvg Age W/QB
Bears26.8926.95
49ers26.7026.65
Titans26.6726.74
Saints26.6526.93
Bills26.5226.45
Cardinals26.4926.41
Patriots26.4726.66
Eagles26.3526.30
Texans26.3326.37
Bengals26.3226.27
Ravens26.3026.28
Falcons26.2526.65
Jets26.2526.29
Seahawks26.1626.32
Lions26.1426.37
Chiefs26.1326.26
Raiders26.0926.16
Steelers26.0826.26
Panthers26.0626.05
Cowboys26.0626.16
Buccaneers26.0026.48
Chargers25.8825.89
Broncos25.8725.86
Football Team25.7925.89
Packers25.7125.84
Giants25.6625.76
Colts25.6225.85
Jaguars25.5025.45
Browns25.4325.53
Vikings25.4225.58
Rams25.4125.41
Dolphins25.1625.33
NFL Avg26.0726.17

Rosters by Draft Status

I always think one of the biggest misconceptions in the NFL is the length of time a draft pick sticks in the NFL and even more than that how long they contribute to the team that drafted them. Here is the breakdown of NFL drafts by round since 2016 and the percent of players still on a roster in 2020.

Round20162017201820192020
180.6%96.9%96.9%100.0%100.0%
281.3%84.4%93.8%100.0%100.0%
365.7%69.8%91.9%100.0%100.0%
458.5%64.9%78.4%94.4%100.0%
544.4%57.5%81.1%80.6%93.9%
639.1%41.2%55.6%73.2%77.1%
725.0%42.9%63.2%52.5%63.4%

Let’s go one step further and see just how many are still on the team who drafted them.

Round20162017201820192020
138.7%78.1%90.6%100.0%100.0%
243.8%68.8%81.3%100.0%100.0%
320.0%51.2%83.8%97.4%97.6%
424.4%45.9%73.0%91.7%100.0%
516.7%37.5%67.6%69.4%87.9%
66.5%23.5%31.1%65.9%77.1%
73.1%20.0%47.4%45.0%63.4%

The reality of the draft is really for most of the draft you are working with a 3 year window for the players to contribute in some manner. Teams probably should be focusing more on top 100 or so draft picks than the overall quantity of draft picks.

Here is how our rosters this year will break down by draft round.

Not surprisingly the biggest group of players in the NFL comes from the undrafted pool as that is a much larger group of players. That doesn’t mean that UDFA is an easy path to success (about 12% of all 2020 UDFAs actually made the team this year) but too often we discount those players due to their draft status. The thing I always find most interesting when doing this breakdowns is that the round 2 and 3 numbers are very similar.

The team with the most 1st round picks on their team this year is the Falcons with 17. The next closest has just 12. The Jets, Chiefs, and Rams all pull up the rear with just 5. As for UDFAs the Saints and Broncos have 21 players who started out undrafted. The Bengals have just 8 and rank last in that category. Here is the breakdown of each team’s roster by draft status.

TeamUDFARd 1Rd 2Rd 3Rd 4Rd 5Rd 6Rd 7
Saints21118122222
Broncos218793522
Jets195499460
Chiefs195968424
Panthers188748352
Titans1810745613
49ers1812574653
Jaguars176887536
Football Team1710468664
Lions169566827
Raiders168798422
Browns1611684742
Bears1510757843
Chargers159764445
Patriots1563106655
Packers157675855
Buccaneers1481154563
Ravens1410598461
Vikings147769626
Colts1471067443
Seahawks1410986934
Cowboys149979152
Rams145997426
Bills1366761034
Cardinals1310765456
Falcons1317356721
Eagles127965693
Dolphins128845668
Steelers1112795351
Texans1010885652
Giants99886567
Bengals871048864
NFL Avg.14.88.77.17.06.15.44.23.7

Homegrown Rosters

I define a homegrown player as someone who either was drafted by or signed as an undrafted free agent by their original team. The league average is just over 60%. The team with the most homegrown players are the Ravens and Vikings, who both have nearly 80% of their roster beginning their career with that team. Other teams over 70% are the Packers, Rams, and Cowboys.

The worst teams in this category are the Browns at just 43.1% followed closely by the Jets at 44.6%. These are two franchises that are run chaotically at the highest levels and are both hoping that new GMs make it happen this year. The Giants, Bills, and Cardinals are the other teams under 50%.

As for teams that select the best overall the Ravens and the Patriots always stand out and it is no different this year. The Ravens have 83 players on a NFL roster this year while the Patriots have 74. They are the only teams over 70. If you pull their own roster out of the mix they have 38 and 35 players on other rosters, the only teams over 30.  The Panthers and Jets are at the bottom of the charts with 44 and 45 respectively. The Panthers have just 16 outside of their own team.

TeamHomegrown% HomegrownOriginally SelectedSelected on Other rosters
Ravens4578.9%8338
Vikings4578.9%6621
Packers4475.9%6723
Rams4275.0%6220
Cowboys4173.2%6625
Patriots3969.6%7435
Jaguars4168.3%6221
Bengals3767.3%5821
Chargers3666.7%5115
Falcons3666.7%5418
Colts3665.5%5620
Steelers3464.2%4814
Seahawks3961.9%6021
49ers3761.7%6629
Saints3761.7%5922
Football Team3760.7%5720
Eagles3459.6%5824
Buccaneers3358.9%4916
Broncos3357.9%6128
Dolphins3256.1%5523
Lions3355.9%5522
Bears3254.2%5220
Titans2851.9%4719
Panthers2850.9%4416
Chiefs2950.9%5122
Raiders2850.0%6032
Texans2750.0%5528
Cardinals2748.2%4922
Bills2647.3%4620
Giants2746.6%4922
Jets2544.6%4520
Browns2543.1%5429
NFL Avg.34.260.1%56.822.7

Rosters By Snaps

The Bills come back with the most intact roster in the NFL with 82.7% of their snaps returning from 2019. They added what would amount to 22.9% of their snaps via free agency, trade, etc… so any contributions they get from rookies or players who were hurt last year is just gravy. The Colts are the only other team close to the Bills but they should come with an asterisk since they are benching their starting QB from last year. The Steelers and Bucs both will have a lot of stability as well but will rely on players who are rookies or coming back from injury.

Carolina only brings back 44.2% of their snaps from last year, the only team under 50%. They signed a ton of players who could provide nearly 36% of the lost snaps but they will still need 20% contribution from others. New England comes back with 54% but added almost nobody in free agency so they will need nearly 40% to come from rookies and injured players last year like Cam Newton.

Here is the breakdown of each team this year.

TeamReturning SnapsNew Vet SnapsShortfall
Bills82.7%22.9%-5.6%
Colts79.9%21.0%-1.0%
Steelers79.6%4.8%15.5%
Buccaneers77.9%6.1%16.0%
Texans77.7%12.6%9.7%
Saints76.6%13.7%9.6%
Chiefs76.4%11.9%11.7%
Packers76.3%4.4%19.3%
49ers76.2%4.7%19.1%
Cardinals75.9%19.8%4.3%
Eagles74.6%12.3%13.1%
Titans73.0%10.1%16.9%
Raiders72.7%28.9%-1.6%
Ravens72.4%9.8%17.8%
Vikings72.2%6.0%21.8%
Rams72.1%7.1%20.8%
Falcons71.0%15.2%13.7%
Bears68.6%23.6%7.7%
Chargers68.0%19.9%12.1%
Jaguars66.7%16.2%17.0%
Bengals66.3%21.5%12.2%
Giants65.6%26.4%8.1%
Broncos65.1%25.1%9.8%
Browns64.7%25.2%10.1%
Football Team64.0%24.2%11.9%
Seahawks63.7%24.5%11.8%
Cowboys63.1%17.8%19.1%
Lions62.2%22.8%15.0%
Dolphins61.7%25.3%13.0%
Jets57.1%26.7%16.2%
Patriots54.1%6.7%39.2%
Panthers44.2%35.7%20.2%
NFL Avg.69.5%17.3%13.3%

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Questions about this article? Reach Jason Fitzgerald on Twitter at @Jason_OTC