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Another story that starts with me watching the Senior Bowl
I saw a bunch of guys in the Senior Bowl who caught my attention. There were some great defensive players, and I already wrote a long article talking about Richmond Spider QB, Kyle Laulleta, who -- along with Western Kentucky’s Mike White — looked like a great mid-round NFL prospect.
But there was a special teams standout that I enjoyed watching as well. Tanner Carew, of the Oregon Ducks was very impressive in that game. It occurred to me that there might be an opportunity to get a talented young player on the team and save a few hundred thousand dollars per year against the salary cap to boot.
The Redskins current long snapper - Nick Sunberg
By all accounts, Sundberg is a good guy. In fact, he was the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award this year.
He’s also 30 years old, he had a couple of bad snaps near the end of the year, and his cap hit is more than double the amount that the team would pay a late round draft pick.
Here’s Sundberg’s remaining contract, as per OverTheCap:
Meanwhile, a 6th or 7th round rookie would earn right around $500,000 per season.
Although Sunberg is a good guy and a pretty consistent player who has 3 years left on his contract, none of the money on his deal is guaranteed, and this may provide an opportunity to get younger and cheaper at the position.
GoDucks.com provides some information about Carew.
Weight: 200 pounds
2017 - Saw action in all 13 games as Oregon’s go-to long snapper on punts and field goals ... Made one tackle on special teams at Wyoming ... Invited to play in the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
2016- Appeared in every game as long snapper for the Ducks... Accurately delivered all 134 snaps to Oregon punters and holders... Executed a creative slide to down a punt at the three-yard line at USC . . . Credited two assisted tackles during the season.
2015 - Accurately delivered all 146 of snaps to Oregon punters and holders while stepping onto the field in all 13 games . . . Aided kick coverage teams with an assisted stop in the season finale against TCU.
2014 - Served as the Ducks’ long snapper for both punts and placements for the majority of his 13 appearances as a true freshman in addition to assisting with a pair of tackles vs. South Dakota and Washington State.
BEFORE OREGON - Considered the nation’s top prep long snapper prospect after working with Chris Rubio at the acclaimed Chris Sailer Kicking Camp the previous two years . . . Snaps to punters have been timed in less than 0.70 seconds . . . The U.S. Army All-America Game participant also started at tight end and linebacker for the Spartans, who finished 2013 with a 5-5 record under head coach Mark Paredes . . . Tallied 29 tackles his senior season as well as one catch for a 10-yard touchdown . . . Added 52 tackles in 2012 . . . The first-team all-Sierra League long snapper has been cited for his athleticism and lower-body strength, which contributes to the power the football explodes out of his hands, and takes great pride in his accuracy and consistency.
When I look through the description on the Ducks site, my main takeaway is that the Oregon media specialist should be fired. The kid that I saw in the Senior Bowl looked special; meanwhile, the description on the website is uninspiring.
I wasn’t the only spectator to be impressed with Carew. One writer identified Carew as one of the inspiring players in the Senior Bowl, saying, “Carew was phenomenal in punt coverage. He made two tackles and downed the ball once.”
Who knew long-snapping was so technical?
I can hear you now... “Long snapper isn’t a real skill is it?”
First of all, being a long snapper is less like being a lineman, and more like being a strong safety.
The whole thing starts with throwing the ball upside down and between your legs to an exact spot either 7 yards (field goal) or 15 yards (punt) behind you.
After you’ve done that perfectly, you either turn into a blocker on field goals, or a tackler on punts. In the latter instance, it means running 40 yards downfield at a dead sprint while fighting off blockers to make an open-field tackle on one of the most elusive runners in the game.
The Chicago Tribune recently published an article about the Senior Bowl. They were focused on the long snapper from Auburn, Ike Powell, but the article gives some idea of how technical long snapping can be.
8. Auburn long snapper Ike Powell came to Chicago to get ready for the Senior Bowl. He flew in Jan. 4 for two days of personal training with former Bears long snapper Pat Mannelly. College long snappers aren’t accustomed to what they have to do as blockers because of the spread punting concepts. Mannelly invented the slide step many snappers use now to get in position to block. Simplified, if the long snapper is going to block to his right, his first step is backward with his left foot. That provides a base for more strength to push off for that block.
“In the NFL you have to step back and block, and I’ve never had to do that,” said Powell, a Georgia native like Mannelly. “I did it two years in high school, sort of, and I played offensive tackle in high school, so I kind of have experience blocking. That was the thing with (Mannelly), repping it, blocking. Just the whole footwork thing.”
I imagine that Powell played well in the game, but he didn’t flash like Tanner Carew did.
Eye, hand, mind coordination
Of course, Tanner Carew caught a little bit of media attention ahead of the Senior Bowl game itself for an off-field skill — his ability to solve a Rubic’s Cube in around a minute.
Here’s a video of him solving one in 64 seconds with a microphone stuffed in his face.
I’ve been working on my Rubic’s cube for 43 years now without ever coming close to solving it. The last time it was solved was while it was still in the wrapper and under the Christmas tree at my parents’ house.
Tanner Carew, in addition to being athletic, appears to be smarter than me.
And, Just to show there’s a website for everything
While I was looking for information about Tanner Carew for this article, I tripped across a website that I’d never heard of before:
Written by Kevin Gold, Longsnap.com is dedicated to long snappers and the art of long snapping at the professional, college and high school level.
It includes a page devoted to every Division One long-snapper in the college ranks, and a separate page for all the NFL long snappers.
He has a blog with weekly entries on the NFL season and archives going back to April 2009. Here’s a sample of his Week 15 entry (which I chose because it makes mention of Nick Sundberg and Tanner Carew):
Week Fifteen is done and included a rare “triple play” of blocks, as the Eagles blocked an extra point, field goal and punt against the Giants. Cardinals snapper Aaron Brewer returned to action and did well in his return from a broken wrist. Thomas Hennessy of the Jets. who missed most of last week’s game with a concussion. was able to snap this week.
Phil Steele continues to be one of the few college football writers to show love to long snappers. As part of his support for the snapping position, Steele has just released his All-American team that has 1st-4th teams, including snappers. Tanner Carew of Oregon, who will also play in the Senior Bowl, is the 1st team snapper, followed by Wyatt Pfeifer of Western Michigan, Ike Powell of Auburn, who is also a Senior Bowl invite, and the 4th team snapper is Wesley Horky of Oklahoma.
This week, the East-West Shrine Game, which has not typically invited snapping specialists to its college all-star game, changed course and added snappers Drew Scott (Kansas State) and Hunter Bradley (Mississippi State).
How would you feel if the Redskins used one of their two 7th round draft picks on long-snapper, Tanner Carew?
This poll is closed
No. Don’t do that.