Ahh, kickers. New York Giants fans have loved to hate placekicker Lawrence Tynes for years now -- even though that probably isn't justified. And the name Matt Dodge conjures up nightmares after 2010 -- even if Dodge does have a ton of talent and is probably going to punt in the NFL for years to come.
All of that said, let's use today's NFL Draft prospect profile to look at the guy who is generally considered the best kicker coming out of college this season -- Nebraska's placekicker/punter Alex Henery.
Henery is an intriguing NFL prospect for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, he is deadly accurate on the kicks that are supposed to be made. He set an NCAA accuracy record by making 68-of-76 career field goals (89.5 percent). The previous record was 87.8 percent. He missed only one of 19 field-goal attempts in 2010, a 50+ yard kick that was blocked. In four years at Nebraska he missed one field goal inside 50 yards. He made all 54 of his career PATs.
Henery can also punt, especially directionally, though most see his future as a placekicker. In 2010, he averaged 43.2 yards per punt and placed 26 kicks inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Jeff Feagles would be proud. Nebraska did use a kickoff specialist and I could not find any information on how well he handles kickoffs.
I don't know about you guys, but I'm intrigued. And Jerry Reese does have three sixth-round picks this April.
I don't know about you guys, but I'm intrigued.
6-foot-2, 177 pounds
Projection: 7th round
Henery has good height and is a good enough athlete. Possesses a big leg and can hit 50-plus yard field goals. Experienced and successful kicking in cold weather. Excellent accuracy on short field goal attempts. Has also handled punting duties and shows some ability to punt directionally.
Lacks bulk. Kicking accuracy drops with longer attempts. Punting distance and elevation are only average. Will take an extra step on occasion while punting. Probably only an emergency punting option for an NFL team.
Henery could be a solid kicker in the NFL. Possesses a big, strong leg with the range to hit very long field goal attempts but accuracy does drop some from over 50 yards. Outstanding accuracy and consistency on shorter kicks. Has experience punting, flashes the ability to directionally kick, but doesn't get enough consistent hang-time or distance. Solid athlete who can handle poor snaps and angle a returner toward the sideline. Henery has the experience, versatility, and mentality (pressure kicks, success in bad weather) to warrant a seventh round selection or priority free agent grade.