Just Kickin’ It

Posted: May 19th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , | 31 Comments »

The Eagles drafted Nebraska kicker Alex Henery in the 4th round.  That statement is kinda weird on its own, but it really doesn’t hit you until you contemplate life without David Akers.

Think about it.  Some young fans only know Akers as the Eagles kicker.  He has given the team great stability and consistency.  How many guys kicked for us in the 90s?

Roger Ruzek

Matt Bahr

Eddie Murray (Cal Ripken was busy)

Gary Anderson

Chris Boniol

Norm Johnson

Akers took over in 2000 and life has been good ever since.

We can question taking Alex Henery in the 4th round.  We can question whether he’s the right guy to replace Akers.  We do have to face the fact that Akers wasn’t going to last forever.  We’re spoiled.  For every Jason Hanson or Jon Kasay that stays put for 15 years there are 10 guys that last a year or two.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the mechanics of kicking.  All of my knowledge comes from an old friend called Super Toe.  I do know that Henery has a good leg.  He’s clutch.  He’s accurate.  I also love his personality.  Henery was so highly thought of by his teammates that they voted him a team captain.  He’s not a typical kicker.  ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit spent time around Henery and his teammates and always came away raving about him as a player.  Herbstreit at some point referred to Henery as the “greatest kicker in the history of college football”.   That should give you an idea that he’s not just the latest All-American kicker.  He’s special.

Check out these numbers from a Nebraska blog:

  • He made 89.2 percent of his field goals (66-of-74. The NCAA record was 87.8 percent b Florida’s Bobby Raymond.
  • He made 77.4 percent of his career field goals from 40 yards or longer (24-of-31). The NCAA record was72.1 percent by Georgia’s Billy Bennet.
  • He has made 97.7 percent of field goals inside of 40 yards (42-of-43). The NCAA career record was 97 percent.
  • Henery was tied for the NCAA record with six career games with at least four field goals.
  • Henery combined to make 256 of 265 career kicks if you count PATs and field goals, a 96.6 percent accuracy record. The Division I record is 94.9 percent by Missouri’s Jeff Wolfert.
  • The Omaha Burke grad holds the scoring record at Nebraska with 397 points.

Bobby April raved about Henery in a recent interview.  He was especially fond of Henery’s confidence and attitude.   And those are the biggest issues with guys making the move from college to the NFL.  The game is faster at the pro level, but kicking should just be kicking.  I think the increased speed of the game and the pressure of life in the NFL is what ruins most college guys.  As April points out in the story, it isn’t as if kickers have to adjust to a new scheme.

There are no guarantees when it comes to kickers and the NFL.  Plenty of guys with great backgrounds have flamed out.  Some internet hack pointed out recently that we should beware of rookie kickers.  I feel confident that Henery will pan out, but there will be some growing pains (do I owe Alan Thicke for using that phrase?).  The numbers that Brian runs through in his post certainly aren’t comforting.

If Henery doesn’t pan out this summer we’ll have to turn to some veteran off the street.  Life will get really interesting.  Does anyone know the number for Mark Simoneau or Luis Zendejas?