Joe Cardona Invited to NFL Combine

It isn't every day that one of the Naval Academy students gets invited to play with the best of the best at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. During this weeklong event the league hosts the premier draft eligible prospects at each position and the plethora of scouts on hand gets to decide if said player is worth pursuing in the draft. This season there will be a Navy Midshipmen among them.

Joe Cardona may not even be a name most Navy fans are used to hearing, let alone those outside the program in the general public. Among the NFL crowd, however, Cardona has created quite a buzz over the last few years at Navy. Cardona is THE premier long snapper in the country. He is the only long snapper who was invited to the combine, while this weekend he will be long snapping for the North squad in the Senior Bowl. This game is the top college all-star game for NFL prospects and is coached by NFL staffs.

When he dons the number 93 uniform on Saturday, Cardona will become only the third player in Navy history to have done so in the Senior Bowl. He will be the first Mid since Eric Kettani to play in the game and that is solid pedigree as Kettani is currently on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster.

Cardona has been long snapping his entire football career as it because quickly evident he was not one of the fastest kids available to play. Long snapping is a closed skill which is often over looked, but which can win or lose football games on one play. The best long snappers in the business have long, secure NFL careers, many playing for a decade or more because they are that good at what they do. Cardona, for example, has been clocked at long snapping the ball at over 40 mph. As a punter or kicker that snap speed gives you that little extra room for error and makes it far less likely that a kick will be blocked.

Cardona knows that his route to the NFL will be a longer one than most. He will enter the Marine Corps as a logistics officer this fall and will serve at least two years before he has the chance to sign with an NFL team. Ironically though the sheer fact that he plays the least glamorous position in football benefits him greatly in terms of his chances to eventually make a roster. Firstly, there are so few dedicated long snappers coming out of college each year that taking a two year hiatus will not be a problem. Secondly, he does not need people around him to catch the ball or throw him passes, all he requires is a weight room, a football, and about fifteen yards of space.

If you have chance on Saturday tune into the Senior Bowl and see a little bit of history as Joe Cardona makes Navy football fans the world over proud of his accomplishments on the gridiron.

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