Kene Nwangwu provided a couple of memorable moments in his rookie season with the Minnesota Vikings, as he was the only player in the NFL last season with multiple kickoff return touchdowns. He took one to the house against the Baltimore Ravens and then did it again when the Vikings faced the San Francisco 49ers. Several other players in the NFL had one but Nwangwu was the only one to do it twice.
The Vikings are in a strange state for this exercise. They have plenty of returning Pro Bowlers, but the younger portion of their team doesn’t offer many slam dunks (yet) for future accolades. I’m going to turn to special teams, then, and choose an overlooked returner who took two kicks back for touchdowns in his rookie season. Nwangwu probably won’t see much action as a running back, but he proved to be a weapon in the kick return game despite only fielding 18 kickoffs last season. Give him the job over a full season and we might even see that total hit three, at which point he can no longer be overlooked.
If Nwangwu is going to make a Pro Bowl, he’s going to have to make an impact somewhere other than special teams. After all, the new rules for the Pro Bowl have eliminated kickoffs entirely, and that’s pretty much all Nwangwu has done to this point in his career.
That’s not to say that the potential isn’t there for him to make the game that (just about) nobody cares about at this point. Dalvin Cook does have some injury history, and if he goes down Nwangwu would be in line to be a larger part of the offense. But, as Shook points out, the Vikings don’t have a lot of guys that haven’t already made it that you can look at and say, “Oh yeah, that guy’s a future Pro Bowler for sure.”
I’d like to see Kene Nwangwu get more opportunities in 2022, that’s for sure. However, if he doesn’t expand his repertoire beyond kickoff returns, it’s hard to see him making the Pro Bowl this season.