While I do my best to be as impartial as possible, two things stood out clearly this offseason. Joseph Fauria was a fantastic pickup that we all should have rejoiced in getting, and David Akers was a terrible mistake waiting to happen. There are other things that I said this offseason, some right some wrong, but in this case I was right on both counts. David Akers has been a below average kicker and has now missed six kicks on the year in 21 attempts (two were blocked, one was negated by penalty (He then missed the rekick)). Earlier in the season, when Akers missed multiple kicks in a game, the Lions expressed confidence in the old veteran. Guys have bad days, it happens. Later, when he would shank a kick terribly against the Steelers, coach Schwartz was quick to jump to his defense, claiming the wind did it. Today, yet again, he expressed confidence in his Kicker despite missing a very poor kick from 31 yards in a dome against the Packers on national television. This kick would be on the left hash mark, normally an easier kick for a lefty. Despite expressing confidence, Schwartz finally did what good coaches do, and is bringing in some Kickers to try out on Monday. This may just be a push tactic to light a fire (New Orleans successfully employed this tactic earlier this year), but they may also be genuinely looking to replace their Special Teams captain midseason. Most fans would not disagree with this move. I don’t know who it is the Lions are bringing in, but there’s a pretty wide crop of guys who have tried out this offseason. So who’s out there for the Lions to try out?
Let’s get this one out of the way. While there is a small chance the Lions are bringing in this fan favorite (And my daughter’s favorite player), it’s not a very good possibility. The Lions are in playoff contention and Schwartz loves his veterans, making the chances of picking up the Norway trick shot artist a long shot at best. That said, they DID try signing him to the international practice squad, so crazier things have happened.
At 36 years old, Graham already fits what Schwartz likes in his veteran Kickers, vast experience. Joining the NFL in 2001, Graham floated around a bit, and while he saw extended action last season (He went 31 for 38, 81.6%) for Houston, he was only an injury fill in from 2009-2011. He isn’t much of a rangy Kicker, and while his long last season was 51 yards he missed 5 of his 9 attempts from that range. Graham was one of the Kickers the Saints tried out, so we know he is still trying to find work.
Another former Texan, Rackers clocks in at 37 years old and hasn’t seen regular season action since 2011. He’s also still looking for work, though, so you’d have to think Schwartz has him on his list. The long time Cardinal had similar numbers to Graham (32-38) as a Texan, but is even longer out of football.
The Lions signed Dimke as an Undrafted Free Agent out of Illinois last season to ‘contend’ with Jason Hanson. He ended up with the Buccaneers this year, where he fought and lost to Rian Lindell for the starting gig (Maybe they regret that now, what with all the missing). Dimke is what he is, a reasonably accurate Kicker with distance issues. He lost to Lindell in epic fashion, missing a 45 yarder and an extra point during the preseason while auditioning for a job.
Wait…who? Lindholm hails from Tarleton State and has been making his living and keeping his leg up in Arena Football. While he once made a 64 yarder in college, Lindholm has been floating around the arena leagues since 2011 and has posted an abysmal 61.4% FG rate there. Ouch.
Another Arena Leaguer trying to make it in the pros, Spencer has an even worse completion rate than Lindholm, and is essentially an injury fill in for Arena League football (We’re reaching the bottom of the barrel here).
Jumping back into the aged veteran bucket, we’ve got Olindo Mare. The 40 year old former Dolphin, Saint, Seahawk, Panther, Bear has been around the league for about ever. Much in the same vein as Akers, Mare hasn’t been even serviceable since 2009.
Once upon a time, Medlock was considered a good enough Kicker to warrant a 5th round pick from the Chiefs (2007). He was…um…bad. So bad, in fact, that he only kicked twice as a Chief, and was out of the league until last season where he haphazardly played to a 70% FG rate for the Panthers last season. Medlock had a brief stay with the Lions in 2010, so there is some familiarity, and he’s been staying fresh in the CFL.
Another fan favorite, Rayner played decently when filling in for an injured Jason Hanson a few years back. What most fans are unaware of is that Rayner failed miserably as a pro after that time, at one point missing four field goals in three games for the Bills. He has been out of the league since 2011.
A 27 year old D3 Kicker who tried out for the Packers, Barnard was pretty bad in D3 (59.3%), but hey, the Packers let him go and it worked out for the Lions picking up Ross in the same manner, right?
A former Kickoff Specialist more than he was a Kicker, I mention him only because his name always seems to pop up and I wouldn’t be surprised if it did again.
This is a name I don’t expect to see, but I would be ecstatic if he were brought in. Gendreau holds the record for the most points in Sun Belt history, and while his numbers are nothing flashy they are made to look worse by an awful ST unit that seemed to be trying to get him killed. Why won’t his name be called? Because Gendreau is gay and NFL teams don’t want to sign a gay player. Screw those guys.
A tryout for the Colts, McManus was a UDFA from this season’s draft, putting him on the far end of the youth spectrum and thus likely out of Schwartz’s Kicker hunt. A fantastic Kicker for Temple with a huge leg, I don’t really know why McManus didn’t draw more interest as a pro. Bad luck landing on a team with Adam Vinatieri? 17 teams went to his pro day and he visited several teams. Curious.
A Kicker/Punter combo, Baer was with the Rams this offseason, but wasn’t much of a shot to make the team. A low volume Kicker without a lot of miles, his numbers are flashy in a bubble (97% FG conversion), but the low volume makes it more of an unknown.
He of the awesome football name, Bonani is a Brazilian footballer who was in camp with the Titans. He played for USF in college where he posted some pretty pedestrian numbers (Hovered just over 75%, 50 yard long).
Once a promising Kicker prospect out of UNC, Barth fell out of favor with scouts even before he had the most depressing Pro Day ever.
Another small school Kicker, Josifovski was neither accurate nor big legged when the Colts took a look at him. He never changed anyone’s opinion of that.
A big Kicker with a massive leg, Buehler fell out of favor after never really developing any kind of consistency as a Dallas Cowboy. A favorite of Madden junkies with poor leg strength Kickers who don’t care for returns, in real life he was never anything more than a Kickoff Specialist.