A Look At Kicker Matt Prater‘s 2017 Season Performance
In 2017 the Lions got a near-identical performance from their kicker Matt Prater to the one that they saw from him in 2016 when he was voted by his peers and fans alike to go to the NFL Pro-Bowl. Prater has been a clutch addition to the team since joining the Lions roster back in 2014. His first season with the Lions in 2014 was the 2nd worst performance in his 15-year career.
He followed that up with his best performance of his career in 2015, where he only missed two field goals in 24 attempts in 2015. Since then, Prater has been a top-five kicker every year he has been in Detroit.
Ironically, his 2016 numbers are very close to what you see with his 2017 production. Both years he made on average around 86% of his field goals. In each season, he was close on attempts as well, kicking 36 times in 2016 and 35 times in 2017. However, he was less effective kicking from 50+ yards last season. Given Prater possesses one of the strongest legs in the league, he typically excels at kicking from range. However, last season he missed four from long range, going 7/11 on the season.
Prater did have a slight aberration to his 2017 season in that he actually had a brief experience punting for his first time in the NFL. When punter Sam Martin was out earlier in the season, interim punter Casey Redfern got injured trying to make a play on a botched punt. He actually performed well for a replacement in a pinch, averaging 34.8 yards per punt on four punts.
Prater’s 2018 Outlook
Fortunately for Matt Prater, he is one of the few Lions who will have very little competition this year at training camp. That is not to say, however, that he will not face competition. Rookie UDFA punter Ryan Santoso was brought in to bring competition to the talented but inconsistent Martin.
However, similar to Prater’s 2017 season, Santoso did not just kick from one special teams position. During his senior season, Santoso was the starting punter, kicker, and also did kickoffs. While his primary position in the NFL would definitely be punter, Prater will need to keep his kicking game sharp. His competition for the roster may be shallow in 2018, but special teams players often have less invested in them, making them easier to cut or move on from if they perform poorly.
At 33 years old, Prater will hit the wall sooner rather than later. It’s important for him to continue to compete and play at a high level if he wishes to keep kicking in Detroit through 2018 and beyond.