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Who would win? NFL's best Over-30s vs. top Under-24s

Julian Catalfo / theScore

What would it look like if we built a squad of NFL veterans over the age of 30 and pitted them against some of the league's up-and-coming stars under 24? Which team would come out on top? Let's dive in and decide. Scroll down on iOS to cast your vote.

Note: We used players' ages as of Sept. 1 and excluded rookies.


Rising stars' offense

Stroud is the clear answer at quarterback for the rising stars after his Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign, especially considering the lack of eligible passers.

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The Texans signal-caller would love having Hall and Robinson in the backfield. Both are excellent weapons as runners and receivers, just like Jahmyr Gibbs, who narrowly missed out on a spot.

Speaking of receivers, Nacua, London, and Addison form an impressive trio of pass-catchers for Stroud to work with. All three eclipsed 900 yards last season, with Nacua setting records seemingly every week.

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LaPorta earned the nod at tight end over Kyle Pitts thanks to his 889 yards and 10 scores over a sensational rookie season. The young Lions pass-catcher is also a capable blocker in the run game.

Offensive line is the weakest position group for the youngsters. Outside of All-Pro picks Sewell and Smith, we're banking more on upside than proven production here.

Ineligible 24-year-olds: Brock Purdy, Trevor Lawrence, Kyren Williams, James Cook, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Ja'Marr Chase, Garrett Wilson, Trey McBride, Dalton Kincaid, Creed Humphrey, Tyler Linderbaum

Veterans' offense

Unlike with the rising stars, quarterback is a tough call for the veterans. Prescott, who earned second-team All-Pro honors in 2023, got the nod due in part to Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins both coming off serious injuries.

Henry, who turned 30 in January, is a shoo-in for the starting running back job. The second spot went to Mostert after rushing for 1,012 yards and 18 touchdowns last year, both career bests.

Wideout is the veterans' deepest position. Hill, Evans, and Adams are among the game's best, but Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper, DeAndre Hopkins, and Stefon Diggs were all considered.

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George Kittle would've taken the tight end spot if Kelce had elected to retire alongside his brother, Jason, but we'll roll with the all-timer who still put up 984 yards last year.

While the offensive line is the young team's weakest group, it's a strength for this squad. Tyron Smith and Terron Armstead were left off in favor of Williams and Johnson, both perennial All-Pros. The interior is nearly as formidable, with Martin highlighting that trio.

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Ineligible 29-year-olds: Jared Goff, Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, James Conner, Calvin Ridley, Dallas Goedert, Evan Engram, Laremy Tunsil


Rising stars' defense

The youngsters are bringing the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year in Anderson and pairing him with Thibodeaux for an explosive pair of edge defenders. George Karlaftis and Travon Walker were also considered.

Benton's 6-foot-4, 309-pound frame is more than capable of keeping multiple blockers busy, leaving Carter free to wreak havoc in the opposition's backfield. The Georgia product finished second in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting despite playing a rotational role on the Eagles' line.

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Linebacker is the shallowest defensive position for the rising stars with no true game-wreckers. We love what Pace and Harris bring as high-energy tacklers, though Leo Chenal and Jack Campbell were also considered.

The secondary is another strength. Witherspoon and Stingley provide a pair of 6-foot corners who won't be easy to leap over on the outside. There's plenty of versatility on the back end, too, with Branch and Hamilton capable of operating as do-it-all defenders who can take on numerous roles alongside first-team All-Pro McDuffie.

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Ineligible 24-year-olds: Aidan Hutchinson, Jordan Davis, Alim McNeill, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Sauce Gardner, Jevon Holland, Talanoa Hufanga

Veterans' defense

Mack finds his way onto the roster after reviving his reputation as a pass-rusher in 2023 with 17 sacks. Lawrence isn't the most explosive pass-rusher at this point in his career but can still get to opposing quarterbacks while remaining elite against the run. Both Cameron Jordan and Matt Judon would've challenged for spots a year ago.

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There were few more immediate locks than Jones after his second consecutive first-team All-Pro selection. Cameron Heyward and D.J. Reader could've been contenders but saw their seasons impacted by injury. Still, Buckner is a worthy choice after his sixth straight season with seven-plus sacks.

What the youngsters lack in depth at linebacker, the veterans have in spades. Davis and Wagner seem to defy Father Time, with Wagner racking up an astonishing NFL-best 183 total tackles a year ago. Beyond them, we looked at C.J. Mosley, Lavonte David, and Matt Milano, though the latter playing in just five games last season prevented him from earning serious consideration.

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Several high-profile defensive backs narrowly missed out, including Jordan Poyer, Kevin Byard, Micah Hyde, Mike Hilton, and Jonathan Jones. Both Gilmore and Simmons earned nods despite remaining free agents, while Mathieu, Slay, and Smith returned to their respective teams after solid 2023 campaigns.

Ineligible 29-year-olds: T.J. Watt, Danielle Hunter, Haason Reddick, Trey Hendrickson, Vita Vea, Jalen Ramsey, Kendall Fuller, Kenny Moore


Both quarterbacks are coming off Pro Bowl campaigns and have plenty of firepower to work with at the skill positions. Prescott impressed last season, but we'll give the slim advantage to Stroud. The 22-year-old led the league in yards per game and interception rate in his first campaign before picking up a dominant playoff win.

The offensive weapons are also pretty even. The older players bring plenty of veteran savvy and consistency, while the youngsters are a big play waiting to happen on every snap. It's difficult to find an edge for either side, so we'll call it a draw.

There's no questioning that the veterans' offensive line is ahead of their younger counterparts. Sewell and Smith are two of the league's best blockers, though even the "least accomplished" offensive linemen on the opposing team still have All-Pro nods and multiple Pro Bowls on their resumes.

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Consistency remains the calling card for the veterans when looking at the defensive fronts. Mack, Jones, Buckner, and Davis all totaled at least 6.5 sacks in 2023. Lawrence and Wagner, meanwhile, offer plenty against the run. The rising stars, meanwhile, are very explosive and only scratching the surface of their potential. However, in a one-game scenario, we'll back the veterans.

The veterans' secondary is solid, but the younger secondary is more exciting. The youngsters had a combined 21 interceptions and forced fumbles last season and offer great athleticism to keep up with the older offensive weapons. While the veteran defensive backs are viable starters, they're more likely to give up explosive plays. Advantage rising stars.

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Ultimately, these two squads match up pretty well. In a few areas, one side has a leg up on the other, but it would be a close contest. In the end, we'll take the veteran squad to win by a narrow margin thanks to its consistency, as opposed to the inconsistent but explosive plays that the rising stars would likely lean on.

Cast your vote for which squad you think comes out on top using the form below on iOS devices.

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