Boston College K Nate Freese
With their seventh round pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Detroit Lions selected Nate Freese kicker from Boston College. It really came as no surprise that the Detroit Lions drafted a kicker. The big questions were who they would take and when they would do it. Those two questions were answered when they chose Freese in the seventh round. He was projected to be either a seventh rounder or undrafted. Because the Lions did not want to risk losing out on him, they took him in the seventh.
The kicking position really opened up in Detroit when Jason Hanson retired. Last season, the Lions rolled the dice with ageing David Akers as their place kicker and suffered greatly for it. Akers was very inconsistent and not accurate. He lacked range as well. Previously with the 49ers, Akers has a great season showing both accuracy and a long range. He got hurt the following year and was never the same. The Detroit Lions cut him after the season and signed two relative unknowns to compete for the job. They will still have an opportunity at the spot, but now they will compete with Freese.
Statistically speaking, Nate Freese is a very accurate kicker. He converted roughly 86% of his career field goals at Boston College. After having a reliable kicker in Hanson for all of those years, they are expecting Freese to bring the same reliability. It also helps that he has experience punting and has a career long punt of 67 yards. That means that, like Hanson, if the punter gets hurt, the kicker can punt in the short term. In 2010, his first season as the kicker, he was 22 of 25 with a long of 49 yards in his attempted field goals. In 2011, he was 10 of 16 with a long of 52 yards. In 2012 he was much more accurate, getting 18 of his 20 attempts with a long of 45 yards. He finished his career in 2013 by netting all 20 of his field goals with a long of 52 yards. While he was shaky early, he proved to be very reliable and very accurate when needed. With a career long of 52 yards, he likely will not be setting records for longest field goal but he will give the coaching staff the confidence needed to kick as opposed to going for it when they need the points.