With the Eagles drafting a new kicker this year it could mean that David Akers's fruitful spell with the Eagles could be over.
Over Akers’s tenure spanning 12 seasons he has proved to be the surprise package for the team, scoring clutch field goals when depended upon and becoming one of the most consistent kickers in the league. Akers’s best statistical year came in his 4th year with the team when he successfully kicked a impressive 30 of 34 field goals, a percentage of 88.2%.
Akers’s has received five pro bowl selections and also holds the record for the most consecutive postseason field goal conversions. An extraordinary player, and a very charitable role model, it seems that in the light of most recent circumstances he might however not be returning with Philly. He is a free agent now, and the Eagles tagged him as their transition player this offseason, a move that Akers disagreed strongly with. The uncertainty surrounding Akers's contract is likely to be the motivation for picking a kicker in this season's draft. Another factor might have been the underlying personal issues which led to a previously calm and collected kicker missing two vital field goals in last season’s playoff loss to eventual winners Green Bay Packers. We all know that even the most reliable kickers have been benched after missing key field goals.
So out with the old and in with the new. In Alex Henery, the Eagles get a fantastic player. The former Nebraska Cornhusker went 120th overall, and he is the highest kicker to be selected since the Patriots took Stephen Gostkowski two spots earlier than that in 2006, and the best part is that he is also a great punter.
Henery definitely has some big shoes to fill but looks like he is the right man for the job. In his four seasons with the Cornhuskers he missed just two attempts shorter than 50 yards. Does he have a long leg? Well completing a 57-yard field goal winner against Colorado, already equalling Akers’s NFL best would suggest he does.
Is he a clutch kicker? Well, if scoring all the points against the Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 Championship game is anything to go by, it would suggest that he is ready for the task in Philly.
I still very much doubt that Akers’s career is over, one hiccup shouldn’t cost you your whole career and I’m sure he will get a second chance. One man’s loss is, of course, another man’s gain. Some sources have already linked Akers with NFC East rival teams the Redskins and Cowboys. The Cowboys' current kicker David Buehler converted 24 of 32 (75%) field goals last season, and Akers, even at the age of 36, still made 32 of 38 (84%). The Redskins' Graham Gano made just 24 of his 35 attempts (69%), illustrating another cause for concern for the struggling franchise.
As one of the Eagles most prolific scorers, wherever Akers ends up I'm sure he will be greatly missed. But in Henery I hope the Eagles can find a talisman able to guide them into the new era.