Hey guys, remember that time the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a long snapper in the sixth round? It’s time to talk about him again, because it’s possible that we may be hearing his name for a while if he manages to make the team, either by unseating the veteran Greg Warren or by Warren abdicating due to health reasons or otherwise.
Let’s keep in mind that Warren is turning 36 and has had reconstructive knee surgery twice. While he’s far removed from those knee injuries, their impact does linger over the years. General Manager Kevin Colbert has been trying to be very precise with his language while maintaining ambiguity when discussing Warren’s situation, but even he acknowledged that with his aging has come deterioration.
There’s a reason that the Steelers drafted Colin Holba, and it’s not merely because they think he’s a super amazing long snapper. It’s because they think they might need one, and they tend to err on the side of caution; that is, it’s better to provide competition that proves to be unnecessary than it is to ignore the position until after you already need to address it. See Harrison, James, location, Pittsburgh, circa 2008.
I confess that deep dives into the long snapper position are not exactly my forte, but Holba does offer some interesting qualities. Here’s something that I like about him, and no doubt something you’ve already heard of him if you were willing to listen: he’s big for the position.
At 6’4”, he is significantly taller than the average starting long snapper last season. Half or more of the long snappers in the league last season were 6’2” or shorter. Jon Weeks of the Texans is just 5’10”, though he does weigh 246 pounds. Around half of the long snappers in the league are also 240 pounds or lighter, while Holba is 248 pounds with the frame to add bulk.
This might not seem very important, but many long snappers don’t play a very significant role in coverage, which kind of leaves the coverage team down a man. Not everybody is Zak DeOssie, whom the Giants drafted in the fourth round in 2007. He has recorded 76 tackles and two forced fumbles in his career. Warren recorded has recorded 20 tackles in nearly the same number of games without forcing a fumble.
My favorite thing about Warren was that he was able to easily work with a diversity of players. The 2015 season was an especially daunting one, as he had to adapt to four different kickers and work with a new punter. So I like the fact that during Holba’s college career, he has worked with both left- and right-footed kickers and with different holders as well.
Warren has been Mr. Automatic for a long time now, but Father Time calls for everybody at some point. Holba seems like the first legitimate candidate at long snapper that has come along since Warren himself beat out Mike Schneck in 2005.
And Schneck beat out a sixth-round long snapper that the Steeler drafted in 2004, coming out undrafted himself in 1999. He was no scrub (though he was shorter), as he continued to play for five more years after Pittsburgh. Nobody has unseated Warren since, and maybe it might take an assist from Father Time, but Holba looks like a guy who can become the new Mr. Automatic.
Not that you’ll care unless he messes up.