ESPN Predicts Surprise for Key Lions Special Teams Roster Battle in 2022

Austin Seibert

Getty Austin Seibert celebrates a kick in 2021 against Minnesota.

The Detroit Lions have plenty of key roster moves set to play out in a few months time, and already, the process of thinking about what the team should do has begun.

Roster projections are beginning to roll out, and amongst all of them, there are bound to be some surprises as it relates to what will happen in Detroit. One such projection was just made by ESPN and writer Eric Woodyard.

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Woodyard, as part of a new series, revealed his 53-man roster prediction before training camp and ahead of the summer period and there were a few surprises. Perhaps the biggest was on special teams, where he had Jack Fox, Scott Daly and Austin Seibert representing the battery for the Lions this season.

As for his explanation, Woodyard wrote, “Fox was named a Pro Bowler at punter in 2020, in addition to being named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month during September 2020. He is looking to headline this group with Daly at long snapper and Seibert at kicker.”

Seibert’s inclusion on the roster by Woodyard is interesting given he seemingly had his job stolen by Riley Patterson late in the season. Seibert also was not as accurate as Patterson considering a 10-12 performance last year before injury. Patterson ended up 13-14 with a long of 49 yards and 16-16 on extra points.

The Lions have maintained this offseason they want competition at the spot, so they’re not going to hand either player a job. To that end, this is shaping up to be a major camp and preseason battle for the Lions in 2022.

At this point, some see Seibert edging out Patterson, but it figures to be a major battle for the team and fans to remember.

Patterson Solidified Job Over Seibert Late During 2022

After Seibert was lost to COVID as well as injury, the Lions needed a kicker and called on Patterson, who they had signed late in the year. All he did down the stretch was look like the future at the position by setting new records for a young kicker in Detroit that were very impressive.

Early in Week 16 against Atlanta, Patterson booted a 26 yard field goal to help Detroit take a 3-0 lead in the game. It was the eighth-straight kick he has converted in his Detroit career, which is a brad new record for the team that Patterson will keep himself. The Lions PR account tweeted the record at the time:

Seibert has a lot of ground to make up in camp with all this in mind even as untested as Patterson is from deep distance.

Patterson’s College Stats & Highlights

Patterson is not without some potential weaknesses, and Seibert has a kicking history in the league to rely on prior to 2021. That could prove as an advantage if Patterson hits a rough patch.

Coming into the league out of Memphis, Patterson is one of the more accurate kickers coming from college in terms of extra points. In a four-year career with the Tigers, Patterson missed just a total of six extra points, going 240-246 with the team, which is good for a 97.6% conversion rate. On kicks, however, is where Patterson has seen most of his problems in college. Over that same span, Patterson converted just 64-83 field goals, for a much lower 77.1% conversion rate. He fell apart in his senior season of 2020 with a shaky 68.2% conversion rate on kicks. Here’s a breakdown of Patterson which does show plenty of positives with his game:

How Riley Patterson could easily break the NFL longest field goal recordRiley Patterson is a top 2021 NFL Draft Prospect after an excellent career for the Memphis Tigers. In this scouting report we take a look at Kicker Riley Patterson's highlights at Memphis as well as breaking down what makes him a top prospect. Script: It’s the 2019 Cotton Bowl (*Text*), and Riley Patterson is in…2021-04-10T18:41:54Z

Any potential past accuracy problems didn’t stop him from getting NFL looks, however, and Patterson does have decent accuracy in his past given his 92% conversion rate in 2019. That was the highest total for the kicker in his college career, which begs the question of whether it was an aberration or not.

So far, Patterson looks good in Detroit and proved that the number might not be far from the norm. He’ll have to prove he can do it again while hitting deep kicks this year. Some see him being edged out as of now, but it will be a battle to watch.

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