The Detroit Lions need a kicker. The performance of veteran David Akers was not inspiring last year and the Lions have no proven player on their roster to take the position. Though kickers and punters are rarely drafted, with a few notable exceptions, the Lions did use their 5th round pick last year on punter Sam Martin which worked out great for general manager Martin Mayhew. There is a possibility that the Lions could use a later round pick this year on a kicker as well.
We as Lions fans have been pretty lucky since Eddie Murray came in as a 7th round pick in 1980’s NFL draft. Murray. Murray lasted 12 seasons in a Lions uniform being an all-pro once and a pro bowler twice and was a steady performer for Detroit the whole time. The Lions decided to move on from Murray and drafted Jason Hanson in the 2nd round in 1992. Though a kicked is rarely drafted that high, it was a pick that the Lions never regretted as he went on to play 21 seasons in Detroit and is one of the most respected kickers in NFL history and may even be a hall of famer. Hanson has the 3rd most field goals in NFL history and was a team leader and a fan favorite; neither of which is a small task from the kicker position.
And then came 2013, the first year post-Hanson era. Akers was awful. He missed five field goals and one extra point. Head coach Jim Schwartz lost faith in him and the Lions did not attempt to retain him for the 2014 season. Akers was a former all-pro but seemed to lose his in mark in 2012 with the 49ers and never got it back with the Lions.
After decades of being spoiled by excellence at the position, the Lions find themselves searching for a kicker for the first time in 35 years. It isn’t talked about much, but for a position that the NFL is considering changing the rules on because they’ve become so automatic throughout the league, the Lions can’t afford to be lagging behind. As we saw last year in the heartbreaking loss to the Baltimore Ravens during which the Ravens never scored a touchdown but won due to six field goals by the Ravens, including a 61 yard boot that essentially ended the Lions season off of Justin Tucker’s foot.
With that in mind, the staff at cover32.com has compiled a list of the top 10 kickers and punters in this year’s draft. It isn’t a flashy thing to think about, but it’s a key to success.
Top 10 kickers/punters in 2014 draft: (READ)