In a league where games are routinely decided by fewer than one score, smart executives look to give their teams every possible edge with the realization that there’s only the slightest difference between missing the playoffs with a .500 record and having a chance to play in January at 10-6.
Examples of this are everywhere if you look at last season’s playoff squads. Bill Belichick is famous for trading Day 3 picks in August to acquire players that he thinks will help on special teams and he drafted long snapper Joe Cardona in 2015. The Steelers attempted to emulate the success of their rivals by selecting Colin Holba in the 6th round of the 2017 draft. Although it didn’t work out the way the team had hoped it would, the message is clear: Any advantage you can gain over your opponent in the NFL is the one that could make the difference.
With this in mind, Ray and I believe Oregon’s long snapper, Tanner Carew, will safely fit into the later rounds of next month’s draft. Carew was heralded as the best long snapper in his recruiting class when he left high school and has maintained that acclaim throughout his collegiate career.
We aren’t alone in this evaluation either. Carew was the only player at his position invited to this past week’s combine in Indianapolis. He was also selected by Phil Savage and his scouts to attend the Senior Bowl, where he was arguably the special teams player of the game.
After playing for a school that emphasized forcing as many fair catches as possible, Carew entered his week in Mobile with questions about his ability to get down the field and make tackles on punt coverage. In my opinion, he slammed the door on that criticism by downing the ball once and making two tackles.
Carew’s other tangibles are undeniably spectacular. He snaps the ball with outstanding velocity and his placement is consistent.
We can attest for his character as well. Carew had just flown home from the combine, but still made time to grant us an interview on short notice. In fact, he is the first prospect to ever call in to the podcast before I was even able to set it up.
We have him ranked ahead of where we had Cardona during his draft year and we see the Oakland Raiders as an ideal fit. The team is making ovr its kicker-long snapper pair after recently parting ways with Sebastian Janikowski and Jon Condo. The team’s new head coach, Jon Gruden, mentioned bringing in a left-footed kicker to compete with Giorgio Tavecchio. The Raiders also currently own 4 compensation picks in addition to their original 6th round selection and and a choice in the 7th frame. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the team draft Carew and then sign Washington State kicker, Erik Powell a couple hours later.
Tanner Carew should hear his name called on draft day in April. After that, he has the potential to play 10-15 years worth of Sundays without anyone hearing his name on television. That, of course, is the mark of a great long snapper.