2011 NFL Draft: A Surprising Late Round Savior For The Washington Redskins
We're coming up on the 2011 NFL Draft, and Head Coach Mike Shanahan and General Manager Bruce Allen have a tall task in front of them.
There are major needs across the board. They need answers at quarterback, wide receiver, running back, offensive line, defensive line and in the defensive backfield.
Perhaps one of the biggest needs that is floating under the radar is for a position that doesn't get a whole lot of attention, good or bad, especially in the grand scheme of things.
This player may be blamed for losing a game, but they're rarely discussed when reflecting upon a disastrous season.
Yes, I'm talking about the position responsible for the most points in an NFL season, year after year—the kicker.
Graham Gano missed more field goals (11) than anyone else in the NFL during the 2010 season, including an 0-3 clip at 50-plus.
Let's go deeper.
The Redskins lost a total five games last season by three points or less. In all but one of those games, Gano missed at least one field goal.
If the Redskins had a Pro Bowl-caliber kicker, we're talking three to four more wins.
Should the Redskins use a draft pick on a kicker?
Now, the Redskins have a couple options. They can show mercy on Graham Gano and give him some more time. He does have a very strong leg and is well-liked in the locker room.
They could also utilize free agency and bring in a veteran kicker with a proven track record.
Or, the third option would be to look at the young guys coming out of college.
Very rarely is a kicker drafted any earlier than the fifth round. We all remember the Oakland Raiders taking Sebastian Janikowski in the first round in the 2000 NFL Draft.
I would not advocate that drastic of a move.
I would, however, suggest taking a look at the best kicker in NCAA history, one that the Redskins could probably get in the fifth or sixth round.
I'm talking about Alex Henery out of the University of Nebraska.
In 2010, Henery connected on 18-19 field goals and was a perfect 54-54 on PATs. He finished his college career with an overall field goal percentage of 89.5, nearly two points better than the previous record.
Alex Henery is the most accurate kicker in the history of college football, and we're not strictly talking about chip shots. He's relatively big for a kicker (6'2'', 180lbs) and he's got an incredibly strong leg.
So there you have it. I'm officially recommending to the Washington Redskins that they use one of their scarce draft picks on a kicker.
Sure, by taking Henery in the fifth round, they would have to ignore a glaring need at another position. They'd have one less chance to add depth to a very shallow team.
But can you imagine having a kicker that is absolutely automatic?
Can you imagine not even having to watch a 45 yard field goal because you know your kicker, Alex Henery, will drill it?
Think about it.
Oh yeah, he also served as the Huskers' punter and averaged a not-too-shabby 43.2 yards per.
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