Give it time, young grasshopper
An NFL roster takes time to develop and evolve. And that is especially true for the LA Rams roster, a team that has leaned far more heavily into rookes and new faces than NFL teams have done in a very long time. So what is the 'right,' amount of time to wait for a rookie punter to evolve into an NFL Pro Bowler? Let's look at some examples:
The Kansas City Chiefs posses the best of the NFL right now in the form of punter Tommy Townsend. The 6-foot-1 191-pound punter out of the University of Florida is entering his fourth NFL season, and in 2022 he averaged 50.4 gross yards per punt, and 45. 6 net yards per punt, which led the NFL in net yards per punt for 2022. But his rookie season, he averaged just 45.0 gross yards per punt, and 40.4 net yards per punt. That was 2020, just three NFL seasons before.
Ray Guy was the guy
Need more proof? Let's set the way back machine to 1973 through 1986. Why then? Well, to examine the career of the NFL's gold standard of punting, former Raiders punter Ray Guy. Ray Guy was so incredibly adept at punting the football that he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2014. Guy landed in the NFL and immediately became a household name.
In his rookie season, he punted the football for an average of 45.3 gross yards per punt, and a net 38.8 yards per punt. But Ray Guy's superpower was how effectively he punted that football inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Over the course of his NFL career, he averaged 20 percent of his punts inside the 20. What about touchbacks? He averaged just 15.9 percent of his punts landing in the end zone.
Let's make this more intimate. What about LA Rams All-Pro punter Johnny Hekker?
How about Hekker?
When Hekker first arrived in the NFL in 2012, he averaged 45.8 gross yards per punt, but only 39.9 net yards per punt. But the very next year, Hekker's gross yards per punt increased slightly to 46.3 yards per punt, but his net yards per punt skyrocketed to an incredible 44.2 yards per punt, setting him up for his first NFL All-Pro honor.
Over the course of his career (he is still punting for the Carolina Panthers), Hekker has averaged just 5.3 percent of his punts as touchbacks, but a whopping 40.7 percent of his punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
Ethan Evans has just arrived to the NFL. But even the greatest NFL legends need time to percolate, develop, and evolve into who they will eventually become. Ethan Evans possesses all of the characteristics to become one of the best NFL punters of his time.
But that will take time. Are LA Rams fans so focused on instant gratification that waiting for nature to take its course is out of the question? I certainly hope not. Ethan Evans appears to be the real deal. After all, you just can't fake a powerful leg like that. In the meantime, this is going to be a long and entertaining journey. So get comfortable, and enjoy the ride.