How Nate Freese Fits with Detroit Lions

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How Nate Freese Fits with Detroit Lions
Mary Schwalm/Associated Press

I'm not sure what's more rare: unicorn sightings or a need-based Detroit Lions draft. 

In all seriousness, general manager Martin Mayhew and president Tom Lewand just completed a feat that hasn't been seen in Motown in some time. Instead of just blindly following their best-player-available strategy, they targeted positions of need without entirely sacrificing their beloved credo. 

And with this new approach in mind, the Lions snatched kicker Nate Freese from Boston College with a seventh-round pick, their last of the day.

Before you start in on the comments section, understand that I get it. Why not just sign a kicker after the draft?

I was of the same mind last year when Mayhew took a punter in the fifth round. I screamed about it in articles and it became a running joke on my podcast between my co-host and I.

But alas, I was wrong. Sam Martin ended the season as one of the best punters in the NFL and made me a believer. 

So was Detroit's latest foray into the arena of specialist drafting worth it? Let's find out.

 

Detroit was in Desperate Need of a Kicker

The transition from Jason Hanson wasn't going to be an easy one. Hanson was the model of productivity and consistency for 21 years, so replacing him would probably include some growing pains.

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But last year was more like getting attacked by a pack of dire wolves.

That may sound a bit dramatic, but David Akers was awful.

There was a miss and a blocked attempt in a four-point loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He followed that up by missing one against the Cincinnati Bengals in a three-point loss. All told, he only connected on 79.2 percent of his attempts.

In simple terms, it wasn't working out.

 

Freese is Consistency Defined

The Lions rectified the mistake of signing Akers by drafting Freese. He might not end on par with Hanson, but his stellar college career is a model of consistency.

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In 2013, Freese didn't miss a single field goal in his 20 attempts, according to nfldraftscout.com. And he only missed two out of 17 the prior year, giving him a two-year conversion rate of 94.6 percent.

Those numbers are impressive, but even more so when you remember that the bulk of those kicks came in New England weather, which can obviously get quite nasty. Freese will have no problems transitioning to a team where he will get at least half of his games in a dome.

As for leg power, he might not match Rice's Chris Boswell. However, Freese did knock in three of his four attempts from over 50 yards, including a long of 52.

It's still hard to believe, but it looks like the Lions handled a multitude of needs handily throughout the draft. And they might have found their kicker for the next 20 years as well.

 

Brandon Alisoglu is a Detroit Lions featured columnist who has written about the Lions on multiple sites. He also co-hosts a Lions-centric podcastLions Central Radio. Yell at him on Twitter about how wrong he is @BrandonAlisoglu.

All NFL statistics are courtesy of NFL.com. College statistics are sourced from sports-reference.com, unless otherwise noted.

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