the study of the kicking components within sports

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Specialist Draftees: Alex Henery & Matt Bosher

This year's NFL draft saw only two specialists selected. That is one fewer than last year's draft, which saw three punters taken. It is two fewer than the average of four. Most rookie specialists that end up on NFL team's training camp rosters are signed as undrafted free agents in the days following the draft. Exactly when and how that will work this year is unfortunately still up in the air, pending resolution of the Lockout. So for now we'll focus on the two draftees.

Alex Henery (Nebraska), drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 4th round

Henery was the top-rated kicking prospect heading into the draft, the first kicker selected in the draft, and the earliest selection of a kicker since Stephen Gostkowski who was taken two spots earlier in 2006 by the Patriots. Normally that would mean that Henery should be the starting kicker on opening day in September, barring any training camp or preseason disasters. That is still the most likely scenario, although it is somewhat clouded by David Akers' situation and the lockout. The Eagles placed a transition tag on Akers prior to the lockout, however he refused to sign it. Once again, we won't know those answers until after the lockout is officially over. So for now we'll focus on the post-draft comments of the various parties.

Eagles head coach Andy Reid:
"We're going to skip [discussing] Akers right now. We'll see how everything goes, but we're sure glad to have Alex on board right now. He was the best kicker in college football, and at this particular time, he was someone we couldn't pass up."
David Akers' agent Jerrold Colton:
"[Akers] looks at things in a big-picture type of way. He wants to see where he ends up next....
At all times David's desire was to remain an Eagle. But if [Saturday] means that he's not an Eagle, he's OK with it and appreciative of his time there."
"I didn’t know what to expect on how early I’d go or how late I’d go. Until it happened, I wasn’t going to believe anything anybody said....
They talked about flying me out there to look at the facilities, but I’m not too certain. It’ll be interesting how it all works out and how long it goes."
"It's not coming into replace [Akers], it's coming in to do my job this upcoming year is really how I look at it. It's not to go in and replace someone. This is the way it was when I was at Nebraska. There's been some good kickers, I wasn't trying to go in and be like them. I was going in to be myself and help the team anyway I could that year."
Henery also handled punting for the Cornhuskers during his college career.With Eagles' punter Sav Rocca potentially to be a free agent after the resolution of the lockout, Henery provides some additional security in that department in these times of uncertainty.

Matt Bosher (Miami FL), drafted by Atlanta Falcons in the 6th round

Bosher handled punting, placekicking, and kickoffs in college. That led to speculation in the moments following his draft as to whether he was intended to replace Matt Bryant (placekicker) or Michael Koenen (punter, kickoffs), both of whom are potential free agents after resolution of the lockout. Comments from some of the Falcons' higher-ups suggest the latter. If needed, even temporarily, Bosher could conceivably handle all three roles - something the Falcons experimented with using Koenen early in the 2006 season. For now we'll focus on the post-draft comments of the various parties.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff:
"The versatility aspect is very important in this league. He was our No. 1-rated punter-kicker. It was the right spot for him even though at one point we projected we might have to (trade) up for this guy."
Falcons' director of player personnel Les Snead:
"It's not a sexy pick. It's not what the fans want. But there's not too many people on the planet that can punt and kick off."
"You never know. It's tough knowing that you're going to have to wait until the last couple of hours of the last day to find out anything. With this position and all, it's just so up in the air."
“I had been in touch with them before the draft. I worked out for Coach [Keith] Armstrong. It’s always a crapshoot being a punter and a kicker with the draft. I was so excited to finally get that phone call and hear from all of the coaches.”
Still more Matt Bosher:
"[Les Snead called and] said, ‘Do you mind holding on for a second? We might have some good news for you in a couple minutes.’ I had a smile from ear to ear. I had to go on my front porch because I have terrible cell phone reception in my house, so everyone else was oblivious until it rolled across the bottom of the ESPN screen."

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