Is David Akers Still an Elite Field Goal Kicker?

Tuesday, we started looking into the case of Pro Bowler David Akers, free agent, by looking at his kickoffs to see how his leg strength has held up over the years. According to those numbers, Akers doesn't appear to be losing much as he gets older.

But what about field goals?

That's certainly a more complicated case. Examining overall accuracy doesn't help much unless you break it down by distance.

Which is what I've done here:

David Akers Career Field Goal Percentage

At the top, you can see that Akers is automatic under 30 yards. Then from 30 to 50 yards Akers has converged between 80 to 90 percent accuracy over the last few years. The only obvious decline appears to be in the 50-yard plus range, although those number suffer from an inherently small sample size.

But the raw numbers don't tell us as much as comparing Akers to his peers. Check out his 2010 numbers against the NFL average:

David Akers 2010 Field Goal Percentage

Everything under 50 yards Akers is essentially as good as anyone else. Yes, he's about 5 percentage points behind in the 30-39 yard range, but that's not particularly significant when you consider that last year he beat the average at that distance by about the same amount.

The only consistent problem Akers has, compared to the rest of the NFL, is those super long kicks. Again, small sample size, but he hasn't hit half of his 50 yard kicks since 2005. Despite the kickoff numbers that suggest his leg strength hasn't decreased, Akers hasn't been NFL average in this catergory since 2004.

What does this mean? It means Akers is basically still an above average to elite kicker under 50 yards. But the majority of NFL kickers make more than 50 percent of those long balls, so he's no longer the type of long range weapon that might be extremely difficult to replace.

Akers' future with the Eagles may depend on what the team wants to pay for: consistency under 50 yards, or the potential for more accurate long kicks.

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