One of the favorite parts of my "job" is discovering guys that maybe I should have been paying closer attention to earlier in the year. Or even guys who actually get better over the course of the season. Then there are the guys who come out of nowhere and start balling; those guys are always fun, too.
Well, this kid Kerry Wynn probably fits into the "all of the above" category.
I was pretty sure the Rams were going to give the Giants the business last weekend (translation: give them a thorough thrashing). I didn't get to see the game live, but when I saw the score I was like WTF?! With the way the Rams had been playing lights out on defense lately and with Shaun Hill making the offense more productive after his reinsertion as starter, the Rams had been giving even some of the best teams in the league fits in recent weeks. I just assumed that maybe the Giants' all-world defensive end Jason Pierre Paul had gone off and made a bunch of big plays and that rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had tied clown shoes on the Rams secondary.
After having an opportunity to watch the game on NFL Rewind, it's clear that both of those things really did happen. However, the guy who stood out the most to me, as far as having an impact on the outcome of the game, was this dude ... No. 72. I had to look him up because I wasn't familiar with the player. His name is Kerry Wynn. I looked him up because I kept seeing him pop up all over the field on Sunday. This cat was like Johnny On The Spot several times, in the right place at the right time to make a big play.
Take for example the fat-guy-interception Wynn gets with 1:05 left in the first quarter. The Rams are running a basic wide receiver screen to Tavon Austin. The pass is a little high, but nothing major. For whatever reason Austin decides to jump up and try to catch the ball, which it doesn't appear he actually needed to do. The ball goes right through his hands, pops off his helmet straight up in the air and ...
... comes right down into the waiting arms of Mr. Wynn, who hustled his ass off to get over there and in good position to make a play on Austin had he caught the ball. Wynn snags the ball, secures it with both hands and proceeds to return the interception for a grand total of seven yards down to the Giants' 44-yard line.
The Giants offense eventually turned that into three points, kicking a field goal with 12:44 left in the second quarter to go up 13-3 at the time. But my dude wasn't done.
With 14:14 left in the fourth quarter, he sacked Hill on third-and-4 to force the Rams to punt, even though they were down 14 points at the time. I wish I could tell you Wynn made some great pass rush move to get by an offensive lineman and put Hill on the ground. The truth is the Giants blitzed and while Wynn was trying to fight through a double team, Pierre-Paul came free on the other side of the center. Pierre-Paul wasn't able to wrap Hill up, but he did force him to step up near the line of scrimmage. Wynn took full advantage by taking him down with a Rams offensive lineman still hanging off of his back.
Not a "pretty" play, but an impressive one all the same.
Oh, and Wynn closed the door on any chance the Rams had of coming back at the end of the game. With two minutes left in the game, the center snapped the ball over Hill's head on first down from the Rams' 26-yard line. At the time they were already down 37-27. Hill was going to lose a ton of yards, but for a moment it looked like he was going to at least be able to salvage the drive by recovering the football.
Then Wynn popped up on the scene, literally. Hill saw Wynn coming for the ball as well. Trying to split his attention between Wynn and the ball caused him to miss the ball on his first attempt to pick it up. There wasn't a second attempt because Wynn popped the hell out of Hill to knock him out of the way and then turned around and pounced on the ball to recover it for the Giants.
After that, there was nothing left for the Giants to do but kneel it out and go home with a win.
I'd seen number 72 popping up here and there when I was watching the Giants play in recent weeks, but I hadn't noticed him prior to that. Come to find out, I wasn't tripping; the kid had been inactive for the first 11 games. And no wonder, he is an undrafted free agent out of the University of Richmond, not exactly the center of the major college football universe. Hell, maybe not even in the same universe, come to think of it. And before injuries started to decimate their numbers, the Giants were pretty damned stacked on the defensive line. There wasn't a real reason for me to be familiar with him before that.
This kid has really made the most of his opportunities since he was forced into the lineup due injuries. In just four games of actually suiting up on Sundays, Wynn already has amassed 14 tackles and 1.5 sacks and a fat guy interception in a reserve role that's been expanding rapidly. If he can carry over this momentum into the offseason, he might be competing for a starting job next year.
That would be quite a long ways from being undrafted to a starter in a relatively short period of time. As they say, it's not where you start, it's where you finish. Kerry Wynn's start ain't too shabby, either. After his big day against the Rams it's my pleasure to name him my Hoss Of The Week for Week 16. I look forward to watching this kid continue to develop for years to come.