Opening day countdowns are great. So are player profiles. Here at Musket Fire, we decided to combine them and create a Week 1 countdown-oriented, jersey number-dictated player profile series. Yesterday we looked at No. 50 Rob Ninkovich, and the day before that it was No. 51 Jerod Mayo. Because today marks 49 days until the New England Patriots open 2015, we are profiling No. 49, long snapper Joe Cardona.
After being taken by the Patriots in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Cardona found himself in an unusual position. Despite being the highest-drafted long snapper in NFL history (and only the fourth strictly long-snapper ever drafted), Cardona wasn’t sure if he would be playing in 2015.
By virtue of being a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Cardona is an officer in the U.S. Navy and must fulfill his military duty. However, the Navy is reconsidering Cardona’s situation. It’s quite possible that Cardona will be able to play this season, replacing Danny Aiken as the Patriots’ long snapper.
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That’s very good news, as Cardona is the most impressive long snapper prospect to enter the NFL in recent memory. He has unreal velocity on his snaps.
In addition to his shifts at the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, R.I. this spring, Cardona has managed to attend OTAs as well as minicamp. He’s well on his way to becoming the Patriots’ starting long snapper this season.
As long as whoever is on the receiving end of hiss snaps can hang on, Cardona could make a major impact on special teams. In particular, the Patriots ought to field an elite punt coverage unit in 2015 as a result of the extra split second or two that will be given to the gunners, thanks to Cardona’s blazing snap speed.
For more reading on Cardona, check out Cyrus Geller’s immediate reaction to him being drafted so early by the Patriots.
In case you missed them, here are the profiles for No. 52 Dane Fletcher, No. 53 Eric Martin, No. 54 Dont’a Hightower, No. 55 Jonathan Freeny, No. 58 Darius Fleming, No. 59 Chris White, No. 60 David Andrews, No. 61 Marcus Cannon, No. 62 Ryan Wendell, No. 63 Tre’ Jackson, No. 64 Chris Barker, No. 65 Jordan Devey, No. 66 Bryan Stork, No. 67 Josh Kline, No. 68 Caylin Hauptmann and No. 69 Shaq Mason.
Be sure to check back on Musket Fire tomorrow morning as we celebrate 48 days until Week 1 by profiling No. 48, defensive end Geneo Grissom.