Where does Don Muhlbach rank among long snappers?


Believe it or not, but Pro Football Focus is now evaluating long snappers. Here's a look at how the Detroit Lions' Don Muhlbach was rated.

Lately, there's been a lot of talk about quarterback rankings and how you can divide the position up into different tiers. This is a common offseason debate since the quarterback position is so important and because there are so many different ways to evaluate the NFL's QBs.

On the opposite side of the spectrum (in more ways than one) is the long snapper position. Generally, the only time you hear about a long snapper is if there's a bad snap, and it's not like there are constant debates about the league's best players at that position. Stats on the timing and accuracy of snaps aren't exactly readily available, and it's just a low-profile position in general.

I don't expect debates about long snappers to suddenly become a thing, but as noted by Longsnap.com, Pro Football Focus actually started evaluating that position in 2013. PFF focused on the following things when looking at long snappers:

We don’t just factor totally botched snaps into a long snapper’s grade, but snaps that are significantly off-line in any direction, whether that inaccuracy was compensated for by the punter or holder or not. A long-snapper’s grade will also be made up from his work on coverage units and can be harmed by missed tackles, poor lane-discipline among other factors.

Using data from PFF's updated depth charts, Longsnap.com broke down the different tiers of long snappers in the NFL. The Detroit Lions' Don Muhlbach, who actually went to the Pro Bowl a couple seasons ago, landed in the "Good Starter" tier along with five other players. Six long snappers made the "High Quality" tier, and 17 players were categorized as average, below average or poor. (There's also a "Not Enough Information" category for a few players.)

To put this into context, seven Lions players are listed in the "Good Starter" category: Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush, Dominic Raiola, Nick Fairley, Glover Quin, Sam Martin and Muhlbach. Muhlbach certainly doesn't get the same kind of recognition as those other players, but he's consistently done a good job at long snapper for the Lions since 2004.

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