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Jake Bates

Lions will let UFL star compete for kicking job

The Lions have landed one of the most coveted UFL prospects. Jake Bates hit field goals of 64 and 62 yards in his first two games last year, and he did it for the team (Michigan Panthers) playing on Detroit’s home field. He’ll compete with Michael Badgley for the team’s kicking job.

But it’s a stretch, I think, to say that Bates looks like a favorite to be Detroit’s kicker. Not that Badgley is anything special, but I’m not sure that Bates is quite good enough to kick at the NFL level. He was not, after all, good enough to be a full-time kicker at the college level; he was a kickoff special, with his last field goal attempt (before the UFL) coming at the high school level.

Bates has a stronger leg. He hit those two long field goals early last year, and he also hit a 60-yarder later on. He finished the season going 3-4 on kicks of 60-plus yards. He was a less-impressive 4-8 on kicks from 50-plus; that includes a 55-yarder, a miss from 58, and all six of the other attempts from 51-53 yards.

Badgley, on the other hand, is arguably the worst current kicker on long-range field goals. He’s gone from 5-13 from 50-plus in his career, plus 3-11 on those kicks at the college level. There are 30 other active kickers with at least 10-plus attempts from 50-plus, and they’ve all hit at least 50 percent from that range.

50-YARD FIELD GOALS (last 4 yrs)
Brandon Aubrey10101.000
Chris Boswell2226.846
Daniel Carlson2227.815
Chase McLaughlin2126.808
Eddy Pineiro810.800
Graham Gano2329.793
Ka'imi Fairbairn1924.792
Jake Elliott1722.773
Harrison Butker1925.760
Evan McPherson2128.750
Younghoe Koo2230.733
Nick Folk1622.727
Cairo Santos1318.722
Matt Gay2028.714
Jason Myers1521.714
Matt Prater2738.711
Dustin Hopkins1217.706
Cameron Dicker710.700
Mason Crosby914.643
Justin Tucker1930.633
Brett Maher1219.632
Tyler Bass1219.632
Jason Sanders1728.607
Brandon McManus2847.596
• Jake Bates712.583
Greg Joseph1526.577
Joey Slye1221.571
Wil Lutz814.571
Greg Zuerlein1631.516
Michael Badgley410.400

Inside 50 yards, Bates made 14 of 16 field goals last year. That’s fine, but it’s not really noteworthy for NFL purposes. Among players who attempted field goals last year, 31 have attempted more than 30 field goals in the last four years. All but five had made at least 88 percent.

Bates comes in a little ahead of Badgley, at least. (Badgley is under 86 percent, ahead of only Chase McLaughlin and Randy Bullock.) So that is looking like a training camp battle, with Bates looking about as likely as Badgley to be their opening day kicker.

FIELD GOALS INSIDE 50 (last 4 yrs)
Cameron Dicker45451.000
Justin Tucker111116.957
Nick Folk107112.955
Younghoe Koo106112.946
Cairo Santos99105.943
Daniel Carlson111118.941
Matt Gay8793.935
Eddy Pineiro5862.935
Greg Zuerlein112120.933
Ka'imi Fairbairn7985.929
Brett Maher5054.926
Brandon McManus8491.923
Harrison Butker8289.921
Riley Patterson5661.918
Greg Joseph6875.907
Jake Elliott7785.906
Graham Gano7785.906
Jason Myers95105.905
Jason Sanders92102.902
Dustin Hopkins8797.897
Matthew Wright3438.895
Joey Slye8494.894
Evan McPherson5865.892
Tyler Bass95107.888
Chris Boswell8293.882
• Jake Bates1416.875
Matt Prater7485.871
Mason Crosby6272.861
Wil Lutz6879.861
Michael Badgley6677.857
Randy Bullock6374.851
Chase McLaughlin5767.851

I would not be interested in selecting either of these guys, even in a league requiring teams to select two kickers. With Detroit being good at putting the ball in the end zone, it attempted a league-low 21 field goals last year. It got only 105 points out of the position (more than only four teams).

As seen in the picture, Bates was with the Texans in the preseason last year. He made 2 of his 3 extra points in a game at New England, with no field goal attempts.

—Ian Allan

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