The NFL Draft is right around the corner. Pro Days are wrapping up and now it is time to wait to see if you get drafted or sign a free agent contract.
Aspiring longsnappers are checking out NFL rosters to see who needs a snapper or where they could go and compete to win a job. Realistically there are about 5 to 10 jobs that can be won each year. GM’s and Special Teams coaches get comfortable with “their” guys and don’t want to worry about replacing them.
College snappers will be looking at which NFL guys are getting up there in age or are too pricey. Teams that are up against the cap have historically cut specialists (punters, kickers, longsnappers) who are making too much to help open up some cap space. I can guarantee you that all the snappers coming out of college trying to make it to the next level know all the snappers in the NFL and know how many poor snaps they had last season. I know I did.
Getting drafted as a longsnapper doesn’t happen very often. Zak DeOssie, Ryan Pontbriand, Jake Ingram and last year Joe Cardona are a few. I was fortunate to get drafted by the Bears in 1998 as the last pick in the 6th round but being drafted might not be the best thing. If he doesn’t get drafted he can now pick where he wants to go. Like I said, longsnappers have been studying rosters and know which teams will be looking to replace the current snapper. Hopefully, if he is not drafted he will have numerous invites to camp and can pick which team he thinks he will have the best chance to make a roster.
Once the longsnapper is in camp he will get his chance to show off his skill. Normally a team will bring in another punter and kicker to compete as well. This means the snapper will get his reps because the new punters and kickers will need a snapper.
The incumbent snapper will work with the first unit and the “new” guy will work with the 2’s.
Time will be spent on the third field (offense, defense, special teams) snapping and kicking during OTAs and MiniCamps. Both of the snappers will look pretty good during these drills because it is not in a team setting; it is individual work. Team field goal period should be pretty similar because there is no contact and the snapper just has to worry about the snap. But when team period for punt comes around it is a different story.
Over my years playing I have seen too many college snappers that can snap but not block after the snap. They have not been asked to block in college and have flaws in their technique. (POST COMING SOON). The punt rules are different from the college ranks to the pros. In college, the punt team can run down the field as soon as the ball is snapped. In the pros, only the two end guys on the line of scrimmage can release when the ball is snapped. The rest of the punt unit must wait until the ball is kicked. This why you see the spread punt formations in college and longsnappers are normally not asked to block.
My biggest advice for snappers wanting to make an NFL roster… Work on protection! This will be your biggest issue at the next level.