When the Detroit Lions drafted long snapper Jimmy Landes from Baylor in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft, they broke with conventional wisdom. Landes became just the seventh long snapper drafted in the last 15 years.
Here’s the list:
- Joe Maese, 6th round by the Ravens in 2001
- Ryan Pontbriand, 5th round by the Browns in 2003
- Zak DeOssie, 4th round by the Giants in 2007
- Tyler Schmitt, 6th round by the Seahawks in 2008
- Jake Ingram, 6th round by the Patriots in 2009
- Joe Cardona, 5th round by the Patriots in 2015
Maese played four seasons for the Ravens. The New Mexico product also answers an obscure bit of Detroit Lions trivia; he was the last long snapper the Lions employed before switching back to Don Muhlbach during the 2005 season. A series of tryouts, including a camp cup of coffee in Detroit in 2006, were unsuccessful. He’s now a firefighter in Baltimore who also trains prospective players, per his Twitter profile.
Pontbriand was an immediate success with the Butch Davis Browns. Coming out of Rice, he quickly rose to the pinnacle of long snapping, earning two Pro Bowls and not having a botched snap over a four-year period. Pontbriand was also notable for his downfield coverage skills, consistently ranking near the top in tackles for his position. His flame burned out quickly, however; the Browns parted ways with their long snapper in 2011 during one of their myriad regime changes. He failed to make the 49ers in the following summer and retired.
DeOssie is a great success story. He also holds the distinction of not being a long snapper in college. DeOssie was an All-American linebacker at Brown and was generally projected as a late-round pick at his collegiate position. Having an NFL pedigree–his father played for the Patriots–helped elevate his profile.
He didn’t even begin his Giants career as the long snapper. No. 51 started out as a special teams ace and reserve linebacker until the regular long snapper got hurt. DeOssie gave it a whirl and took to it quickly. He earned a Pro Bowl berth in 2008, his first full season ever being a long snapper. He’s still one of the best in the business and DeOssie sports two Super Bowl rings and is a respected team captain in New York.
Schmitt is the definite cautionary tale. After a perfect snapping career at San Diego State, the Seahawks pounced on a chance to land the ex-linebacker. He injured his back in the final preseason game of his rookie year and never played again. Schmitt now makes his living as a photographer.
Ingram came from Hawaii and lit up the Senior Bowl practices with his rocket snaps. Alas, he lasted just two seasons for the Patriots before bouncing around the tryout circuit and the UFL. His brother Luke was also a long snapper for a couple of seasons, notably with the Seahawks, but was undrafted.
Cardona performed capably as a rookie for New England, recording three tackles as the Patriots made it all the way to the AFC Championship game. He was a four-year starter at Navy even though he’s unusually small for the position at a playing weight in the low 230s. Cardona was an engaging interview during the 2015 Senior Bowl week, talking up his snap velocity. Because he is active duty military, his NFL career might get placed on hold. He was recently assigned to boat duty by the Navy.
Landes is hoping to wind up like DeOssie, the only long snapper who came anywhere close to meriting his draft status. Muhlbach has been one of the better long snappers for most of his long NFL career after being undrafted out of Texas A&M, earning a Pro Bowl berth in 2012 and helping Jason Hanson become the most prolific long-range kicker in NFL history.