by Nathan Kearns
Tavon Austin, KR, St. Louis Rams
There is virtually no chance for any NFC rookie to make the Pro Bowl on the traditional roster, with players like Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson, and Adrian Peterson locking up the offense, and the Seahawks’, Bears’, and 49ers’ rosters filling up nearly the entire defensive roster. The exception to that might be from a special teams position, which is where Tavon Austin can fit in. Several rookies have made the cut as a kick returner, including Patrick Peterson (2012). Last year, the representative from the NFC was Leon Washington, who returned only one kickoff for a touchdown, and did not score on any punt return; although he did average an impressive 29.0 yards per return. The Rams were borderline pathetic last season, with Chris Givens leading all return men with a 23.4 yard average on 23 attempts, good for 50th overall in the league. Danny Amendola was the only punt returner worth noting, but he was injured for a majority of the season, and is now with another team. With an completely made-over offense and an upgraded defense, the St. Louis Rams should find themselves in better position this season to return kicks. Austin was a phenom in college, returning both a kickoff and punt for a touchdown in his senior season, two kickoffs for touchdowns as a junior, and tacked on another in his freshman year. With the national media already swooned by the explosiveness of Austin, if he can produce an above average year and register, at least, one return for a touchdown, it should be enough to entice fans to send the Rams’ rookie their vote.