While you may agree the barometer of perfection is unattainable, that is exactly what is expected, and essentially required from a long snapper especially at the highest levels of football.
In snapping the ball back to both holders and punters at extended distances, their job is essential to punts, extra points, and field goals, which are all critical in the special teams battle of every game.
The long snapper must embody a similar mindset to that of an offensive lineman. Their specialty is one that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet in any capacity, but one that must be executed at a high level in order to set up scoring opportunities on kicks, and flipping field position on punts. A job well done by the long snapper is one that isn’t mentioned whatsoever, and that is just the way that they like it.
What does a Long Snapper do?
The long snapper is far from a “pick and plug” position, as it requires a specialized individual in the case of almost every team at higher levels of the game. In the NFL, each team has a spot reserved for this position, even as they are forced to carry a limited 53-man roster on a weekly basis.
On extra points and field goals, their job is to snap it back to the holder in the blink of an eye with pinpoint accuracy – giving the kicker plenty of time as the onslaught of the defense looks to get a hand on the kick.
With this, it should be noted the perfection and minimal room for error associated with this job. Holders are on a knee, with little mobility to catch a wayward snap, which therefore demands a snap within the frame of their body that they can catch and get down in a hurry for the kicker. The best long snappers in the business are known for their consistent spin that allows holders ease in catching and placing the snap efficiently, without having to turn or adjust the football.
On punts, their job is arguably a bit more tricky, as their duty is to snap the ball to the punter standing around 15 yards away. An on target snap is crucial, as punters tend to take 3 steps to gather themselves before punting the football. A crisp snap simply leads to a better chance for solid protection, and quality punt.
Added with this, is their job to cover the punt, and pursue downfield after snapping the football. Due to this, a long snappers athleticism and toughness is evaluated as NFL teams look to fill the spot on their roster for the position. Long snappers must be able to snap with focus in the trenches, as well as having the ability to mix it up with more athletic players, and make the occasional tackle as they cover downfield.
Why is it called Long Snapper?
The typical snap in football is either an under-center snap, or a shotgun snap that is around 5 yards in distance.
Long snappers specialize in snaps on extra points and field goals that are about 7 yards, and on punts which are around 15 yards in distance.
What are some other names for the [Position Name]?
Deep-Snapper (Refers to Punts)
Short-Snapper (Refers to Extra Points and Field Goals)
What are the Skills and Body Type needed to play Long Snapper?
Body Type (General Estimate)
Weight- 230-250 Pounds
The build of a long snapper is comparable to a linebacker. Their build allows them the versatility to handle big bodies around them as they snap field goals, as well as the athleticism they need to cover downfield on punts.
Who are some of the best Long Snappers ever?
As you might imagine, this list was tough to compile! Here are a few guys below who have pieced together lengthy, and respectable careers at the position.
Zak DeOssie (2007-2019) - A successful linebacker at the college level, DeOssie carried that success over to a lengthy career with the New York Giants. A member of 2 Super Bowl winning teams, DeOssie was also selected to 2 Pro Bowls in his career.
Don Mulbach (2004-2020) - Having just recently finished his NFL career, Mulbach’s long tenure with the Detroit Lions left him 2nd in franchise history record books for his number of games played. He was also selected to 2 Pro-Bowls.
Why is the Long Snapper so important?
Football enthusiasts will repeatedly tell you that football is a game of inches. This truly extends to every area of the game, as long snappers must dominate the details of their job snapping the football.
In their case, a couple inches is the difference between a holder or punter being able to safely catch the snap and execute their duties. Rain, snow or shine, the expectation of quick, well-located snaps remains the same for long snappers. With only one spot being reserved on NFL rosters for the long snapper, errors are unacceptable, and this adds a cutthroat element to playing the position.
A failure to execute an accurate snap can lead both to missed field goals and blocked punts, both being tide-turning plays in a football game. Interestingly enough, analytics show that a team that is able to block a punt wins about 90% of the time in football, an absolutely crazy margin. This one simple statistic goes to show the need, and competitiveness for NFL teams to find the best 32 long snappers in the world throwing back tight, accurate snaps at the blink of an eye on Sundays for years to come.
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