The kicker position hasn’t been a consistent one for the Detroit Lions in recent years.
In 2020, Matt Prater only hit 75 percent of his attempts. That included going 10-for-17 from 40+ yards. The following year, the Lions used four different kickers.
Last season, the Lions had a carousel going until they handed the keys to Michael Badgley, a quarter into the season. He only missed four attempts all season. And converted 10 of 13 attempts from 40+ yards.
He remains on the Lions roster signed only for 2023. It’s a cheap deal where if his game goes to hell the team can cut him for almost nothing.
Badgley is a reliable kicker from short range. He’s only missed two out of 55 kicks from less than 40 yards away in his career. His problem is when he has to put a little more mustard on it.
The 28-year-old is 41-for-60 in attempts that are 40+ yards. That includes being 5-for-13 in 50+ yard situations.
His career long is 59 yards which he made during his rookie season. Since then, his longest kick is only 53 yards.
When you have a coach who likes to go for it, as the Lions do with Dan Campbell, it’s easier to ignore having a kicker who can hit from deep.
But you never know when you could use a reliable kicker who can make a lengthy kick under pressure. Could be to win the division. Or the NFC Championship. Hell, could be the difference between winning a Super Bowl.
The Lions don’t need to draft a kicker, but it wouldn’t hurt either. Badgley isn’t a bad kicker, as we’ve noted. But to draft your own guy who you can rely on for 10+ years would bring some solace to any general manager.
Where Could the Lions Take a Kicker?
If we break down the Lions draft picks, they have four in the fifth round or later. Two in the fifth round and two in the sixth round.
They do have a third rounder as well but taking a kicker that high is borderline stupid. For reference only one kicker has gone in the third rounder or sooner since 2005. Robert Aguayo was drafted late in the second round by Tampa Bay, he was supposed to be a sure thing.
Let’s just say he didn’t play for the Buccaneers very long.
Would it be ok for the Detroit Lions to use one of their two fifth round picks on a kicker? Absolutely. If they feel the player they select will be a long-term investment then it’s worth it.
But what if they traded into the fourth round to get one? Or worse, what if they did use that third round pick on one? Let’s hope not.
The last time the Detroit Lions drafted a kicker was in the seventh round of the 2014 draft. Nate Freese out of Boston College. I honestly have no recollection of this person. And after checking his Wikipedia I know why.
He beat out Giorgio Tavecchio in preseason to win the starting job. Missed four field goals in the first three weeks and was cut. It looks like he never played in the NFL after that.
But we can’t let that deter us. In the last three drafts, four kickers have been taken. Three of them (Cade York, Evan McPherson and Tyler Bass) have served their teams well.
The Detroit Lions have some flexibility with their draft and can afford to take a shot on a kicker. But if they do let’s hope they keep it to the later rounds.
For more from the author Jeramy Stover, check him out on Twitter here: @jstover96
Tweet: @WoodwoodSports or comment on your favorite social media platform!
Photo Credit: © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK