Long Snappers in the NFL – The Ultimate Guide
Football is one of the few games with a lot of versatility. With players taking different responsibilities, everyone must do their part correctly. One position that’s rarely discussed is a long snapper.
So, what is a long snapper in the NFL, and what does he do? A long snapper in the NFL will snap the ball on the hike and send it to the punter, then the holder. The main role of a long snapper is to deliver a precise and quick snap to the demanded spot.
Join me below as I discuss more about long snappers in the NFL, their origin, roles, drafted snappers, and much more.
What Is A Long Snapper
A long snapper is a football player that makes part of the field goal unit and the punt team. He plays a major role in hiking the ball on snap to the punter and holder.
A long snapper should throw the ball fast and accurately to the punter on the requested spot right away. They are specialists in what they do and know where to send the ball.
Once the snap is done, and the punt is away, long snappers get downfield and come part of the defensive line.
Why is it Called a Long Snapper?
They’re called long snappers because of the duties they perform. A long snapper needs to snap the ball a pretty long way to the punter and holder. The act of snapping the ball and taking it a long way is what led to the name; long snapper.
How Long is A Long Snap?
A long snap in gridiron football is around 15 yards when sending the ball to a punter. But a long snapper distance on goal field kicks and extra attempts range from seven to eight yards.
Additionally, the snap time ( time the snapper moves the ball to when the punter catches it) should range from 0.7 to 0.75 seconds. Consequently, the punter has approximately 1.2 seconds to kick the ball.
What Do Long Snappers Do
Long snappers are also called deep snappers and are tasked with snapping the ball on a field goal kick, punt, or extra attempt. They come in handy during a punt snapping the ball and sending it at least 15 yards to a punter.
They also do the same during a field goal or extra kick attempt sending the ball seven to eight yards to the holder.
A long snapper must be fast and precise when tossing the ball. After tossing, they need to change roles right away and protect kickers from the opposing team’s offensive unit. This gives the kicker ample time to kick the ball.
What Is the Origin of the Position of the Long Snapper?
A long snapper position is something that did not exist 20 years ago. Instead, teams would fill a lineman or any random player to snap the ball and toss it to a punter.
Furthermore, the player snapping the ball was not tasked with blocking the kicker. This left the punter with nine players providing cover against ten in-rushing offensive players. It was a big disadvantage to the punting team.
Much of what we know today as a long snapper can be credited to Steve, a linebacker who starred for the Cowboys. Steve is father to Zak DeOssie, a Pro Snapper for the New York Giants.
Steve played for the Cowboys, Patriots, and Jets in the 1980s and 90s. DeOssie was one of the first players that would quickly recover from snapping to provide blocking.
The Cowboys would become the first team to use the skill of creating a pair of eight against eight on the battle line. Soon afterward, it became ideal for a snapper to change roles pretty fast and aid in blocking.
Nowadays, every team in the NFL employs a long snapper on their roster. Long snappers can enter the NFL as free agents while others are drafted. Currently, the highest selected long snapper is Ryan Pontbriand.
Teams nowadays know the importance of a long snapper, with every NFL team having a long snapper on their roster.
Why Do Football Teams Have A Long Snapper
Teams have a long snapper to ensure fast and precise tossing of the ball to a punter during a snap. After snapping the ball, punters are jumped in by the opposing team. Having a snapper is important to ensure faster and more accurate tossing of the ball.
A long snapper has approximately 0.75 seconds at most to send the ball to a punter. A punter, on the other, has 1.2 seconds before they kick the ball off their feet. It’s a race against time for both teams, with the snapper further helping block opposing players.
It’s an important role as a snapper must be accurate. A wrong snap and play are lost. The quarterback needs to catch the ball to avoid a sack or losing control of the ball. Not every player on the field can toss the ball fast and accurately after a snap.
Does a Long Snapper Play Center?
A long snapper doesn’t play center as most people tend to think. A center is totally different from a long snapper. Not every player playing in the center is a long snapper. Teams have a dedicated snapper on their roster.
After the snap, they get tossed on pretty fast by the opposing team. This is why long snappers rejoin the defensive line afterward and help block the opposing players.
How Many Long Snappers Have Been Drafted?
Long snappers are quite important, and teams in the NFL have drafted them severally. Tyler Schmitt has the distinction of being the first player to be drafted into the NFL as a long snapper.
Playing for San Diego State, Tyler Schmitt was drafted into the NFL by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2008 sixth round. He signed a four-year contract but wouldn’t play a regular season down.
Teams in the NFL would then go six years without drafting a long snapper. However, that has changed since 2015, with NFL teams drafting long snappers six times in a row.
The second team to draft a long snapper was the New England Patriots, which picked Joe Cardona in the 2015 fifth round. Some of the recent drafts include Blake Ferguson of the Miami Dolphins. He was drafted from LSU in the sixth round.
Overall, NFL teams have drafted seven long snappers, which goes to show the important roles they play.
How Much Do Long Snappers Make
Long snappers are among the lowest-paid players in the NFL. But, that doesn’t mean they earn too little. There are a few long snappers in the league with an annual average salary of $1 million.
A good example is Brinkley, who signed a 5-year contract worth $5.75 million. However, most long snapper rookies will earn an average of $522 000 a year.
Josh Harris tops the list of the highest-paid NFL snapper at $1.4 million a year on the 2022 NFL salary rankings.
Who Is the Best Long Snapper in NFL
The choice of the best long snapper in the NFL depends on what factors you consider. Several names will come to mind when you try to choose the best long snapper.
First on the list is Zak DeOssie, who plays for the New York Giants. He has a long career in the NFL, playing over 172 games so far. Other great names on the list include Joe Cardona and Josh Harris who are among the highest-paid long snap players in the NFL.
Are Long Snappers Important in the NFL?
It’s a common question a football fan might ask. But, for coaches and management, the importance of a long snapper is well understood and highly appreciated.
From a fan perspective, a long snapper role isn’t that important. But, the real importance can be seen when a long snapper makes a mistake during a snap.
A good example to illustrate the importance of a long snapper is a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers playing the New York Giants. The Steelers’ long snapper Greg Warren got injured and was replaced by linebacker James Harrison.
On his only snap, James Harrison put the ball past the end zone leading to a safety. The safety penalty gave the New York Giants a penalty giving them possession which led to a touchdown score.
Simply put. Long snappers are quite important in the NFL. But, the importance of their roles is rarely seen until they make mistakes. In 2012, Jon Rondo of the Oakland Raiders saw his wrong snap blocked by the defense after the kicker moved to the next punt.
Long Snappers in the NFL FAQs
Does Long Snapper Do Anything Else?
Yes, long snappers do more than just snap and toss the ball to a punter and a holder. Once the snap is done, long snappers move to the center and become part of the defensive line to act as blockers.
After a punt, a long snapper needs to go downfield and become among the first defensive linemen. They help oppose the opposing returners.
What is The Difference Between Short Snapping and Long Snapping?
The difference between short snapping and long snapping is the distance and specific location of the ball after the snap.
A long snap involves sending the ball 10-15 yards to a punter, while a short span involves sending the ball five to seven yards for field goals and extra attempts.
How Fast Do Long Snappers Snap?
Long snappers are pretty fast, with a range of 39 mph to 39 mph. This gives them a snap time of 0.7 to 0.75 seconds before the ball gets to a punter and a kicker.
There you go! That wraps everything from me on long snappers in the NFL. As seen, a long snapper in the NFL is a member of the field goal kick and punt team. They play an important role in hiking the ball at the snap to a punter and a holder.
Long snappers’ roles are not highly noticed but remain quite important even before. Nowadays, almost every NFL team has a long snapper on their roster. There have been over seven long snappers drafted into the NFL, which goes to show the importance teams are placing on this position.