"Did the Lions improve?" is our latest series analyzing the Detroit Lions' roster in comparison to their 7-9 2015 season. To conclude the series, we look at the special teams units.
2015 specialists: Matt Prater, Sam Martin, Don Muhlbach
2016 specialists: Matt Prater, Sam Martin, Don Muhlbach, Jimmy Landes, Devon Bell
The Detroit Lions punter and kicker will remain the same this season, presuming something bad doesn't happen to Matt Prater or Sam Martin during the offseason. However, the Lions spent a sixth-round pick on long snapper Jimmy Landes to compete with veteran, and fan favorite, Don Muhlbach.
Did they improve?
Since long snapper is the only potential change to the position, let's take a deeper look. Muhlbach will be 35-years-old once the season begins, but he obviously has a built-in rapport with Martin. Landes will be 24 in August, and while he's the new guy in town, he'll have plenty of time to mesh with the special teams units during camp. It's a near-impossible feat to choose who is the better long snapper at this point, but Landes is undoubtedly the better long-term option.
Beyond long snapper, the Lions also brought in several players who excel in special teams roles, including cornerback Johnson Bademosi and Darrin Walls
What about compared to 2014?
2014 specialists: Matt Prater, Sam Martin, Don Muhlbach
Although the Lions finished the season with the same lineup as they used in 2015, it took them until Week 6 to find Matt Prater. Considering Detroit won't have to flounder through the first quarter of the season looking for a reliable kicker, the 2016 Lions are better off than they were in 2014.