Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News recently published his annual rankings of NFL special teams units. The rankings, based on 22 different kicking game categories, assigns points for each category, with the best team finishing with the lowest amount of points.
This year, Philadelphia finished first where they have been for two of the last three seasons. Detroit was second, followed by Kansas City, the Rams and Baltimore. San Diego’s units were the lowest ranked.
If there was any doubt about the importance of special teams, seven of the top 11 special teams units made the playoffs.
A tenth snapper has been signed to a future contract for next season. Winston Chapman, who snapped at Mississippi State, has signed his first NFL contract with the Miami Dolphins. Veteran snapper John Denney will become a free agent next month if the Dolphins do not sign him to a new deal.
Last week, the Browns signed snapper Charley Hughlett to a new six-year contract extension through the 2022 season. Hughlett has been the snapper in Cleveland for the past two seasons.
The Steelers, who recently signed veteran Greg Warren to a one-year contract, also added some competition today by signing former Cardinals snapper Kameron Canaday.
For the first time in almost a decade, the NFL Scouting Combine will feature two long snappers. It was announced a few weeks ago that Colin Holba of Louisville would snap at the Combine. It was assumed that Holba would be the only snapper invite, as the past seven Combines have included just one snapper.
However, with the official list now released, snapper Bradley Northnagel of Cal has also been invited to the event that starts at the end of this month. Hopefully, this will reverse the trend of inviting one snapper.
In 2006, when the Combine first added long snappers, three were invited. Three were also invited in 2007 and then the number went down to two for 2008 and 2009 before eventually going to one where it has stayed until this year.
Another snapper has benefited from a strong workout at the Husted Kicking combine and turned it into a contract. Dax Dellenbach has signed with the Bucs after a long snapper workout yesterday that included Kameron Canaday and client Derek Hart.
Dellenbach, who was with Tampa Bay in rookie mini-camp last year, joins Jesse Schmitt (Packers) and Josh Latham (Jets) as snappers who earned contracts after working out for pro teams at the Husted Kicking combine during the Senior Bowl week. Dellenbach is also the eighth snapper to sign a contract for next season.
Colin Holba of Louisville has been honored with the two post-season invitations every college prospect covets. Holba, who has already snapped in the Senior Bowl, will next perform at the NFL Scouting Combine in early March.
It is believed that Holba is the only long snapper invited to compete at the Combine in Indianapolis.
There were a few developments this past week involving snappers and special teams coaches. The Steelers have re-signed veteran Greg Warren for another season, while the Jets added Josh Latham, who previously snapped at Sacramento State. Latham is the second snapper to be signed from the Husted Kicking workout in Mobile, Alabama and the seventh snapper to sign a contract for next season.
A former snapper, Brad Banta, who had been an assistant special teams coach in Washington, is now the special teams coach of the Saints, while the 49ers have filled their vacancy with former Bears assistant special teams coach Richard Hightower.