The Eagles longest tenured player and the longest currently tenured athlete in Philadelphia appears to have reach the end of the line. The Eagles selection of kicker Alex Henery from Nebraska means that David Akers is likely finished in Philadelphia.
Akers spent 12 years in Philadelphia, making five pro bowls in the process and being named an all pro four times. Unfortunately, as Jimmy pointed out on Bleeding Green Nation, as good a guy as he is… it’s business.
He’s been an extraordinary player, person, and role model for the Eagles during his tenure here. But he’s a free agent, and the Eagles tagged him as their transition player this offseason, a move that Akers and agent Jerrold Colton balked at. The uncertainty of Akers’ contract is likely the motivation for picking a kicker, and in Alex Henery, they get a fantastic player.
As sad as it will be to see Akers go, it’s pretty exciting to see Alex Henery coming in. It’s rare to see a kicker go in the fourth round, but it’s also rare that a kicker like Henery comes around. One of the most accurate kickers in NCAA history, Henery missed only two kicks from inside 50 yards during his Nebraska career.
In the pressure packed Big XII Championship Games of the past two seasons, Henery hit 6 of 6 field goal tries. 5 of these 6 were from over 40 yards. 2 were from over 50, including a 52 yarder that gave the Cornhuskers a late lead in the 2009 title game against Texas with under 2:00 to go. A kicker battle tested like this is a good thing.
It’s actually somewhat odd that a position which continually plays such a vital role in the outcome of a game is so often ignored in the draft. I think this is a great use of a fourth round pick to grab far and away the best kicker of this class. Henery also served as the Cornhuskers punter and averaged 43.2 yards per kick as a senior. I doubt the Eagles will want him punting in the NFL, but it’s a useful skill nonetheless.
If there was on knock against Henery it’s that he didn’t kickoff at Nebraska, who opted to use a specialist. Clearly though, Henery has a leg for it and given the NFL’s new kickoff rules, it’s just not that important.