Well right now there is seven but we are going to lose a few….
Best known is probably Jesse Williams AKA “The Monstar” The Seahawks waived the 24-year-old defensive tackle earlier this year after he spent two seasons on the team’s IR because of constant knee problems.
Seattle drafted Williams in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft after he played on Alabama’s 2011 and 2012 BCS national championship teams. After Williams junior season at Alabama he was being talked up in some circles as a potential first round draft pick but the knee problems set in during his senior year and his production was way down causing him to slip in the draft.
The Seahawks have reworked Williams deal and he will rejoin the team in 2015 but he will need to stay healthy other wise this could be the last we see of The Monstar in the NFL.
Brad Wing (pictured) is the incumbent punter at the Pittsburgh Steelers but had a very up and down season in 2014. The Steelers signed him to a one year contract in January indicating that he need to do more on the field to secure a longer deal.
Wing played collegiately at LSU and had a bright career but was suspended from the LSU bowl game his junior year and he skipped his senior year and declared early for the draft. He originally entered the NFL in 2013 as an undrafted free agent with the Eagles but did not make it out of camp.
Wing had a 43.7-yard gross and 38.8-yard net averages in 2014 for Pittsburgh and appeared in all 16 games but this average is too low for most NFL teams he needs to do more. He also took care of the holding duties which provided a highlight when Wing passed for a two point conversion after a botched extra point attempt.
Wing may have the inside track for the Steelers punting job but it is another Australian providing the competition. Jordan Berry was signed in April as an undrafted free agent by the Steelers to provide camp competition for Wing.
Berry was a member of the EKU football program from 2009-13 and was a three-time All-OVC punter. As a senior he was part of a punting unit that ranked first in the OVC and fifth nationally (FCS) in net punting at 39.08 yards per punt.
Berry who also represented the Gridiron Victorian Eagles junior team before heading to the USA is a product of the Nathan Chapman Pro Kick Academy.
All punters struggle to win the job their first year out of college but I think Berry has a great opportunity to take the job from Wing.
Sam Irwin-Hill like Berry watched the draft but did not hear his name, soon after the draft the Indianapolis Colts added Irwin-Hill as an undrafted free agent. While playing at the Arkansas Razorbacks in the SEC he was a two-time Ray Guy Award candidate for college football’s top punter.
It will be a big ask for Irwin-Hill to beat out the established First-team All-Pro (2014) Colt Pat McAfee as he not only is the teams punter but he also take care of the teams kick off duties. McAfee is one of the NFL’s best punters and has only missed one game in his 6 seasons with the Colts.
Irwin-Hill will learn a lot from this experience which may earn him a chance at another camp next season but for 2015 I think he will miss out.
The Dallas Cowboys are no strangers to Aussie punters thanks to long time Cowboy Mat McBriar, as well as young hopeful Tom Hornsey who was in Dallas last pre-season but was cut before the start of the season. Hornsey was signed again by the Cowboys in February to battle for the punting job with Chris Jones who was signed to a two year contract extension in early May.
Hornsey attended the University of Memphis where he was a Consensus All-American in 2013 and took out the Ray Guy Award for the nations best punter in the same year.
I think Hornsey has every opportunity to impress in Dallas and take out the job, if not he will get a chance to compete somewhere else.
David Yankey (a non punter!) was born in Sydney but grew up outside Atlanta Georgia, he retained his Australian citizenship after his family moved Georgia when he was eight so we still count him as Australian.
Playing offensive guard while attending Stanford, Yankey was twice a Consensus All-American (2012, 2013) and twice First-team All-Pac-12 (2012, 2013) thanks to these awards he made the call to skipped his senior year and declared for the NFL draft. The Minnesota Vikings drafted him in the 5th round with pick 145 overall of the 2014 NFL Draft, Yankey was active in the pre-season but missed the regular season with injury.
Yankey is a contender to fill Charlie Johnson’s vacated left guard spot, although there is plenty of internal competition for places on Minnesota’s offensive line this season and it was made tougher after the Vikings recently drafted guards T.J. Clemmings (110th pick), Tyrus Thompson (185th pick) and Austin Shepherd (228th pick).
I still think that Yankey should not only make the team but will play a role for the Vikings in 2015.
That all being said there is only one Aussie left to talk about and it is Jarryd Hayne. I really don’t know what to say about Hayne as I am very conflicted on the subject. Hayne has never taken a snap in a game of American Football not even at the local level here in Australia, he did not go to college in the US like all the plays mentioned above.
He was signed by the San Francisco 49ers and since then, you have seen nothing but love for him from the media here but it all rubs me the wrong way. Hayne may run the ball well, but I can’t see anyway he will pick up the skill of pass blocking or the pass blocking scheme well enough to make the roster. NFL teams will not put a running back into the game if there is a risk their multi million dollar quarterback could get injured if a rookie misses a block.
Here is what I think happens, Hayne will be cut before the season starts but will then be signed to the 49ers practice squad, this will give them a full season to evaluate him as a player.
Good Luck to all the Australians as they will all head into camp soon, keep in touch on Gridiron DownUnder for all the updates