The United States Naval Academy has not had a player from their football team drafted into the National Football League since 1998 when offensive lineman Mike Wahle was taken in the second round of the supplemental draft by the Green Bay Packers.
But the common trend of NFL teams passing on Midshipmen could change this year with Navy long snapper Joe Cardona on the radar as the best at his position in all of college football. For his superb play, Cardona received an invite to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana which is held from Feb. 20-23 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Cardona is the only long snapper invited to the event this season.
The senior snapper has been widely considered the best at his position in all of college football by NFL Scouts this season and although his position isn't typically one that teams spend draft picks on, it does happen. Most recently, Jacob Ingram from Hawaii was drafted in the sixth round by the New England Patriots in 2009.
When they aren't drafted, long snappers are among the first undrafted free agent signings teams make if there is a need at the position. Seattle Seahawks long snapper Clint Gresham - from TCU - went undrafted but has been with the team since 2010 and will snap in his second Super Bowl just a little over a week from now.
While being the only snapper at the combine, Cardona is one of two at his position to be selected for college football's premier all-star game, the Senior Bowl. He will snap for the North side while Andrew East of Vanderbilt will snap for the South on Saturday at 4:00 PM (ET) on the NFL Network.
It's unclear what Cardona's status will be at this time in terms of fulfilling his service requirements as a member of the United States Military, telling Morgan Adsit of FOX45-Baltimore:
"I'm going to be prepared to play at any time of course, but I'm also going to be prepared to be a good Marine. Right now (there is) not a lot of word as to what things are going to look like over these next couple of years but (I am) immediately looking forward to commissioning in May."
Still, Cardona's looming service hasn't scared off at least one NFL coach as Chip Kelly was chatting him up during practice time at the Senior Bowl.
Chip busy talking to Joe Cardona of Navy. Long snapper. #Eagles— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) January 20, 2015
While the Midshipmen have other seniors who look like potential NFL prospects - Parrish Gaines (selected to the East-West Shrine Game) and Paul Quessenberry - Cardona is the only one from the academy to receive invites to the combine and Senior Bowl. If he can make the most out of his opportunities, he may be able to buck a trend that has seen NFL teams pass on long snappers and Midshipmen in the NFL Draft.