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Draft Coverage

2023 Combine preview: Kicker

With Michael Badgley headed toward unrestricted free agency, it's worth taking a look at the kickers in this year's NFL Draft as the Lions could be in the market to draft one for the first time since Nate Freese in the seventh round in 2014.

Top 5 kickers to watch at the Combine:

1. Jake Moody, Michigan, 6-1, 210

Moody was one of the more accurate kickers in college football over the last couple seasons and also possesses a big leg to boot. He made 29 of 35 field goal attempts (83 percent) this past season after hitting 23-of-25 attempts (92 percent) in 2021. He hit from 59 yards as a long this past season.

2. Christopher Dunn, NC State, 5-8, 179

The highest scoring player in Wolfpack history, Dunn has an accurate and powerful leg. He was a combined 44-of-50 kicking field goals the last two seasons.

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3. Jack Podlesny, Georgia, 5-10, 190

Podlesny never converted less than 81 percent of his field goal tries in three seasons at Georgia. He was a perfect 3-for-3 kicking from 50-plus yards this past season and only missed 13 field goals total the last three seasons combined.

4. Chad Ryland, Maryland, 6-0, 183

Ryland attempted 15 field goals of 50-plus yards over the last five seasons and made nine of those. Ryland was just 12-of-20 on his field goals this past season, his worst percentage of his career, and was just 2-for-8 from 30-39 yards, which in the NFL has to be pretty automatic.

5. Anders Carlson, Auburn, 6-5, 215

His best season came in 2020 when he hit on 20 of his 22 field goal attempts. But for his career, Carlson has just a 71.8 percent (79-of-110) conversion rate on field goals and hasn't made one from 50-plus since 2020.

Combine sleeper to watch: B.T. Potter, Clemson, 5-10, 200

Over a five-year career for the Tigers, Potter made nine of his 13 attempts from 50-plus yards and was 20-of-26 and 21-of-26 overall kicking field goals the last two seasons.

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Lions' need at the position: High

Free agency comes before the draft and the Lions will likely sign a veteran, whether that's Badgley or someone else. Then Lions general manager Brad Holmes will have to decide if taking a player like Moody on Day 3 of the draft to compete with that veteran in training camp makes sense.

Badgley was 24-of-28 kicking field goals and a perfect 33-for-33 on extra points, but he doesn't have a huge leg. That's really the only knock on him. Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp appreciated the consistency and calming effect Badgley brought to the position after some early-season inconsistency from others in that role. Still, if the Lions can find a youngster with a bigger leg who is an upgrade, that's a win.

Key stat: Detroit's overall field goal make percentage of 80 percent (24-for-30) ranked 26th in the NFL this past season ahead of only Minnesota (78.8), Denver (77.8), Pittsburgh (77.3), Cleveland (75.0), Kansas City (75.) and New Orleans (74.2).

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