2. PK Matt Prater
Riley Patterson is a fine kicker, but that's it-fine. He showed his limitations in the preseason finale, and his lack of ability from long-range will (and maybe did in Week 1) impact the Lions' in-game strategy. Even as much as Dan Campbell likes to go for it on fourth down, there may be times where a longer field goal attempt is unavoidable. So simply not trotting Patterson out, and instead going for it, will not be an option. What if that happens in a critical regular season game, or a playoff game? Playoff positioning, or the season, could ride on Patterson's leg from a tenuous distance.
The 39-year old Prater has no such limitations on long field goals. He was "only" 5-for-6 from 50-plus yards out last year, but he also missed four games. In each of the previous two seasons, including his last of seven as the Lions' kicker in 2020, he had an even 10 attempts from 50-plus yards out. Yes, he only went 13-for-20 from that range over that span, but it was not an issue of a coach simply not having confidence he could make a long field goal.
In Week 1 against Washington, for a dose of recency bias/consideration, Prater made a 54-yarder. Even the 44-yarder he made against the Giants in Week 2 is toward the top-end of Patterson's comfortable range.
Since letting Prater leave in free agency in 2021, which was a smart move at the start of a rebuild by the way to not pay a kicker big money, the Lions' kicker turnstile has only been put to a stop by Michael Badgley last season. Frankly, only a team like the 2023 Cardinals should have such turnover in trying to find a suitable kicker, with nothing at stake for them.
A late-round pick is a palatable cost to bring Prater back to Detroit. He is under contract through 2024.