The strangest feature about the list of individuals who gave Louisville long snapper Colin Holba a draftable grade is not the names on the list but rather the one name not on the list.
The one name missing is significant because it belongs to Colin Holba himself.
Long-snapper Colin Holba, drafted 6th by the Steelers, said he was surprised he was drafted at all.
— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) April 29, 2017
Holba’s surprise is not a reflection of a lack of confidence in his talents but rather a lack of confidence in long snappers being drafted. It is the same response seen by Lions long snapper Jimmy Landes when he was selected in the sixth round of last year’s draft.
“I was very surprised. I was expecting free agency, just because I know how rare long snappers get drafted.” Landes told MLive.com.
Much like Landes’ selection, the Steelers faced heavy criticism and shock over their selection of a long snapper in the sixth round. The crowd against the move will argue that the team had more pressing needs and could have opted for an undrafted long snapper instead. They have a case for both arguments as Holba’s selection meant one more long snapper selected than tight ends and inside linebackers. There have also been only a handful of true long snappers drafted in the NFL’s history.
Just taking a look at all the long snappers that finished on a team last season, it is obvious that the position has almost become synonymous with the word undrafted.
Out of the 32 long snappers who started in their team’s final game last season, just three were drafted. Only Clark Harris, Joe Cardona and Zak DeOssie were members of the exclusive lineup of long snappers that started their team’s final game. But while in the eyes of the fandom, three long snappers are still not high enough to warrant the Steelers’ selection, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert have a conflicting view.
Both Tomlin and Colbert realize the rarity for a long snapper to be drafted but the opportunity to take Holba at the end of the sixth round seemed like a no brainer. For the duo, it is not about considering the value of a long snapper to the game of football but about the prospect of adding a key contributor from the tail end of the sixth round.
“Not many long-snappers come along we believe are draftable. When we see one, we want to add him in the mix, just like we would any other position,” said Colbert during the team’s post draft press conference.
It seems that difference in the opposition and Colbert’s view comes down to the side’s value in the long snapper position. What the opposition see as a specialized position put on a pedestal, Colbert and Tomlin see as just any other sixth round pick.