Field position is everything in football. The Philadelphia Eagles already have a good offense and an improving defense, but special teams is an area that still can do better. Alex Henery was unspectacular last year. There were times where he missed very make-able field goals. Coach Chip Kelly seemed reluctant at times to try longer field goals because of Henery, and the Eagles missed out on scoring more during the 2013 campaign due to this. With some of Henery’s limitations, should the Eagles start looking for another kicker?
Although Henery was one of the most accurate kickers in the league the last two years, most of his field goals were inside of 45 yards. He also missed a crucial field goal in last season’s Wild Card Round loss to the New Orleans Saints. When the spot of the kickoff moved from the 30 to the 35-yard line, the league saw a considerable about of touchbacks from its kickers. In 2013, out of 88 kickoffs that Henery performed only 37 resulted in a touchback. The 37 touchbacks placed him 20th out of 32 kickers in the NFL. Add to the fact the Eagles gave up the third highest amount of kickoff return yardage, and it makes for an undesirable situation.
The current free agent class of placekickers is very thin. Henery is still better than other kickers like Rob Bironas, Rian Lindell and Lawrence Tynes. The only other way to get a different kicker is through the upcoming draft. Many of the scouts say that the best kicker in this year’s draft is Chris Boswell from Rice University. He is projected to go in the fifth or sixth round. With the Eagles needing to address other positions in the draft, selecting a kicker that high would not be a wise decision. There is a kicker who may be available when the Eagles.
Nate Freese is a kicker from Boston College. Out of 20 field goal attempts, Freese did not miss at all. In fact, Freese has only missed two field goals total (38-for-40) in the past two seasons. Freese also has a strong leg. He made two of his field goals for more than 50 yards and he placed 51 of his 73 kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks. He is also versatile. If something were to happen to current Eagles punter Donnie Jones, Freese could assume the punting duties. He averaged 41.7 yards per punt for Boston College. Most draft projections have him going in the seventh round or going undrafted. If he does fall that far, the Eagles should look into either drafting him or signing him if he becomes a rookie free agent.
Games are not just won or lost with offense and defense; special teams are a key component. Alex Henery has been an average kicker. If the Eagles would like to improve the special teams, change is needed. Freese can be an improvement.
Chris Franklin is a Philadelphia Eagles writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrisfranklincp or add him to your network on Google