When is the last time the Detroit Lions drafted a kicker?

It could (should?) be on the table this year, but when is the last time the Detroit Lions drafted a kicker?
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From 1980-2021, the Detroit Lions basically had three kickers (Eddie Murray, Jason Hanson, Matt Prater). Murray (1980-1991) and Hanson (1992-2012) were drafted by them, in 1980 and 1992 respectively-second round in Hanson's case. Prater came aboard in 2014, and held the job through 2020.

At the start of a rebuild in 2021, it made no sense for the Lions to sign a older kicker to a lucrative multi-year contract. So Prater left to the Arizona Cardinals in free agency, and the Lions have had a revolving door at kicker since (12 kickers rostered, according to Justin Rogers of the Detroit News), going through a few options before the 2021 season even started.

That carousel has slowed a little bit the last couple seasons, but despite re-signing Michael Badgley again this offseason the spot is ripe for an upgrade.

General manager Brad Holmes promised the addition of competition. UFL standout Jake Bates may get a shot to unseat Badgley one that league's season is over.

There are a few kickers in the conversation to be drafted this year: Will Reichard (Alabama), Josh Karty (Stanford), Cam Little (Arkansas) and Harrison Mevis (Missouri). In the last 20 years, four kickers have been taken in the top-120 picks, and two were last year.

A legit replacement for Badgley probably has to come in the draft or via an undrafted rookie at this point.

Which begs the question....

When is the last time the Lions drafted a kicker?

As expected, with a roster filled with plenty of others holes going back to before Holmes and Campbell came in, Detroit has not drafted a kicker in quite a while.

With their final pick of the 2014 draft (No. 229 overall), the Lions took Boston College kicker Nate Freese.

Freese kicked in the first three games of his rookie season, going 6-for-6 on extra points and 3-for-7 on field goals (0-for-4 from 40-plus yards out) before being waived in September. Prater entered that season with the Denver Broncos, but he was released after serving a four-game suspension and the Lions signed him.

Freese never got another opportunity in the NFL, or any other football league.

Even though a lot of people won't like it, the Lions drafting a kicker this year can't be ruled out. It won't be until Day 3, most likely, but fans should take solace in the roster being so good otherwise that kicker stands as a spot it may be worth using a draft pick on to upgrade.

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