One of the least known positions in football is the long snapper. These players will only play a handful of snaps each game and are rarely the focus of attention. This leaves many fans wondering why do NFL teams have long snappers?
Since you have the center snapping the ball on all the offensive plays many fans wonder why they cannot also play the role of long snapper as well.
Since the long snapper only plays a few snaps fans believe this player can be swapped out to add another player to the roster.
NFL teams have long snapper on the roster because these players can snap the ball faster, more accurately, and more consistently than any other player. A slow snap could result in a block field goal or punt, while an inaccurate snap can result in a turnover.
Though there are probably several players who could do an alright job at long snapping in the NFL you want those that are the best.
The risk that is involved with a long snap is just too high to have another play do it each game. At the end of the day when deciding whether or not to roster a long snapper you must think of the outcome.
Either you have a player that excels in long snapping the ball but takes up a roster spot. Or you have an inexperienced player long snapping and gain one more spot on your roster.
Generally adding one more player is rarely going to make much of a difference for the team. If this player is the fifty-third man on the roster it is likely they are going to be a depth player.
Since a long snapper is much more likely to have a bigger impact on the game, this position is usually chosen over an extra depth player.
Issues With Other Positions Long Snapping
One of the main arguments against using long snappers is that anyone can do it. Below we will break down some of the reasons why this isn’t the case.
One of the main reasons that any player cannot play the role of the long snapper is because of the speeds these snaps need to come it.
It is not enough that a long snapper can get the ball to a location he needs to be able to do it at a certain speed.
On punts, the punt block team is going to rush towards the punter in an attempt to block the ball before the punt is completed.
One factor that plays into the punter’s ability to get the ball off is the speed of the snap. Once the snapper starts his snapping motion the play has officially begun.
If it takes a few fractions of a second longer for a center to get the ball to the punter than the long snapper this can result in a blocked punt.
Blocking a punt is at the least going to completely change the field position of the game. At most a blocked punt will be returned for a touchdown which is fairly common on these plays.
The risk of allowing this sort of catastrophe is not worth replacing the long snapper.
Accuracy is another factor that plays into the role of a long snapper. Centers do snap the ball many times a game but at most this usually travels five yards.
When long snapping the ball will travel 7-10 yards in the air. These players will be standing on punts, and kneeling on field goal attempts.
The long snap must be within arms reach of the punter or holder or else the player may miss the ball. Botching a snap on a field goal or punt is deadly. The majority of defensive players on the field are already going to be travelling into the offensive backfield with momentum.
If the snap sails over the punters head there will be several punt block team members nearby ready to race the punter to the ball.
This often results in turnovers and even touchdowns. A botched snap on a field goal is going to cost your team a potential three points as well as offer up a live ball to the other team.
For these reasons, teams believe that having a long snapper on the team is an important aspect.