Punters and kickers aren't the most popular picks in the NFL Draft.

Every once in a while however it’s necessary for teams to make that investment. They just can’t make a mistake and waste the pick. Otherwise they’re going to look very foolish.

The Detroit Lions never regretted taking a kicker Jason Hanson in the second round in 1992 and it appears they have found another gem this year by drafting punter Sam Martin in the fifth round.

Martin not only has given the Lions a much stronger leg at punter he’s pulling double-duty and also providing a considerable upgrade on kickoffs.

All of that improvement on hidden yardage has been one of the biggest differences -- albeit a little under the radar -- in a club that has a 4-2 record entering Sunday’s game at Ford Field against Cincinnati.

“I know there were a lot of people that questioned that pick” coach Jim Schwartz said. “I would like to see where all those people are right now. I think it has proven out that he is a pretty good punter.”

Martin the 165th pick overall out of Appalachian State was the first punter that the Lions selected in the draft in 30 years.

Through six weeks he ranks third in the league in gross punting average at 48.9 yards and fourth in net punting (yardage for returns and touchbacks subtracted) at 43.1 yards.

A year ago Lions punter Nick Harris ranked 32nd in gross punting (41.5 yards) and 27th in net punting (37.6).

Detroit’s opponents also are starting drives on average just outside their 20-yard line after kickoffs compared just inside their 25-yard line a year ago when Hanson was kicking off.