Steelers select LS Colin Holba in sixth round of 2017 NFL Draft

Heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, Steelers fans were passionate about finding replacements for their aging stars. Many expected the franchise to find another edge rusher to eventually supplant the ageless James Harrison, while others demanded the team move forward with finding Ben Roethlisberger‘s heir.

Amidst the cries for building the future, another cornerstone of many Steelers Super Bowl teams was seemingly overlooked: long snapper Greg Warren.

Warren entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2005. He was a part of the Steelers two most recent Super Bowl victories and is one of the few players remaining who can make that claim.

A quiet cog in the machine, you won’t hear Warren‘s name too often. Even with several low points on special teams (Josh Scobee), Warren’s role was never questioned. He has operated under a year-to-year handshake deal with the Steelers for some time now. Yet, his name has flown under the radar as one who may need to be replaced in coming years.

Enter Colin Holba from Louisville.

The Steelers made waves on the final day of the draft by using their sixth-round pick on the Cardinals long snapper. The Internet typically jeers special teams picks, and Holba’s selection was no different. Comments ranged from “wasn’t there anyone else” to, well, I can’t repeat those words here.

Yet, the Steelers may have made another wise decision in the many decisions they have made in NFL Drafts past and present. Recognizing that Warren’s days might be numbered, Pittsburgh took Holba as the insurance to Warren, as they did Watt for Harrison and Dobbs for Roethlisberger.

Pittsburgh has discovered several times that having a reliable long snapper is paramount to successful special teams play. Anyone who can remember back when James Harrison replaced an injured Greg Warren in 2009 knows this. Harrison sent a snap sailing over former Steelers punter Mitch Berger‘s head!

There’s not a whole lot else we can say about Holba at this point, other than he was extremely effective at snapping the ball in college. (What else can you say about a long snapper?)

Still, that’s a testament to how good Holba is. Patrick Mannelly, a former long snapper for the Chicago Bears, works with college draft prospects at the position. Mannelly felt that Holba was one of three long snappers who could be drafted in 2017.

That might not sound like big news to the common fan, but understand that long snappers almost never hear their names called on draft day. According to the same article, “Of the 39 long snappers who played in the NFL in 2016, only four were drafted.”

Now Holba can add his name to the fortunate few.

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