Fans sometimes look at elite college football teams — pick, say, Alabama's best team of the past decade — and wonder if they could compete against the worst teams in the NFL. The argument typically is shot down quickly, mainly because of an age and strength difference. In many cases, it would be boys against men, and it wouldn't end well for the younger team.
But a unique set of circumstances has created a competition that is perhaps more compelling here in Minnesota.
I've joked about this on the Daily Delivery podcast a couple of times, but I finally sat down to crunch the numbers: Just how close in age is the average potential starting Vikings offensive lineman compared to the average potential starting Gophers offensive lineman this season?
With fall camp underway — something Daily Delivery guest host Christina Long discussed with Gophers beat writer Randy Johnson on Thursday's show — and a couple of young Vikings back on the field, now is the perfect time to share those results.
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For the Vikings, I made some assumptions to make this more interesting: I put all five of their draft picks from 2018-present into the starting five. That might not be how they line up in Week 1 as injuries and competitions play out, but I do believe this is how they ideally would play in 2021 and could very well be their starting five at some point this year.
Right tackle: Brian O'Neill, 25.9 years old.
Right guard: Wyatt Davis, 22.5 years old.
Center: Garrett Bradbury, 26.1 years old.
Left guard: Ezra Cleveland, 23.2 years old
Left tackle: Christian Darrisaw, 22.2 years old.
That's an average of just a few days shy of 24 years old, which would set the Vikings up well for the future if they all stay healthy and pan out individually and collectively.
The Gophers, on the other hand, have a bevy of experience with four redshirt seniors and a true senior. Their starting five could go like this:
LT: Sam Schlueter, turns 24 next week.
LG: Blaise Andres, turned 23 two weeks ago.
C: John Michael Schmitz, 22.4.
RG: Conner Olson, 23.2.
RT: Daniel Faalele, 21.7.
That's an average of almost 23 years old, just a year younger than the Vikings. All but one projected Gophers starter is older than Darrisaw, the Vikings' rookie first-round pick.
I'm not suggesting the Gophers have a better line than the Vikings. But the respective ages bear watching in the context of how both teams play this season.