It remains to be seen whether the Pittsburgh Steelers got better at the punting position via the 2021 NFL Draft. But the team definitely got bigger by selecting Pressley Harvin III with its second pick in the seventh round (No. 254 overall).
Harvin—6-0 and 260 pounds or more—played at Georgia Tech, where he won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter in 2020. He’s the first African-American to win the award since it was instituted 21 years ago.
“He is a big-legged guy,” said Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert during his post-draft press conference, held in conjunction with head coach Mike Tomlin. “He has a naturally powerful leg. Excited to have him come in and join the competition,” added Colbert.
Harvin led the nation and set Georgia Tech and ACC records with a 49-yard punting average in 2020. He was a unanimous first-team All-American, becoming only the third Georgia Tech player to achieve that distinction.
Regardless, he is at least several inches shorter and about 40 or 50 pounds heavier than your average NFL punter, as illustrated by the picture below.
For what it’s worth, it looks like Harvin also has a big arm, so much so that he could be a legitimate weapon on fake punts.
Pittsburgh Now Has 3 Punters On Its Offseason Roster
But to win Pittsburgh’s punting job, Harvin will need to beat out incumbent Jordan Berry, 30, who was released prior to last season and then brought back in October after veteran replacement Dustin Colquitt failed to serve as an upgrade.
Berry was signed to a one-year contract in late March. In 2020 he punted 57 times for 2,609 yards, with an average distance of 45.8 yards and a net average of 40.5 yards. He had 23 punts downed inside the 20-yard line as well as three touchbacks.
All told, Berry has punted 385 times for the black and gold (2015-2020) and has a career average of 44.4 yards and a net average of 39.9 yards. In his five-plus seasons he has landed 154 punts inside the 20-yard line with just 18 touchbacks. He was originally signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Kentucky.
According to overthecap.com, Berry’s new contract calls for him to be paid a salary of $990,000 with a cap number of $950,000. If he is released after June 1 it would put $100,000 in dead money on Pittsburgh’s 2021 salary cap while saving $850,000 in cash. By way of comparison, Berry is 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, which is a typical frame for an NFL punter.
Don’t Forget About Corliss Waitman
Meanwhile, the Steelers also have Corliss Waitman back on a one-year Reserve/Future contract. Waitman spent all of last year on Pittsburgh’s practice squad after initially signing as an undrafted rookie free agent on April 28, 2020.
During his four-year career at South Alabama Waitman punted 158 times for an average of 42.7 yards. He subsequently transferred to Mississippi State but was denied another year of eligibility by the NCAA and sat out the 2019 season.
In a one-on-one interview with Steelers Takeaways in March, Waitman indicated that he has been training in Alabama with his kicking coach. He also says Berry told him he has the talent to become the punter for an NFL team.
“He [said] consistency is what gets you in the league and keeps you here. He told me I [can] be an NFL punter. I haven’t forgotten that.”
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