With the 2016 NFL Draft now over and the bulk of the heavy lifting done with regard to the roster building process now out of the way, it is easier to begin to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at certain positions, and what the implications might be of a variety of moves for certainly players.
And take stock is what we shall do, as every move has ramifications up and down the roster, so now we will take a look at some specific players and see how the team’s moves during the course of the offseason thus far, and more specifically since the draft, has sent their stock rising or falling.
Player: P Jordan Berry
Stock Value: Even
Second-year punter Jordan Berry did well enough during training camp and the preseason last year that when the Steelers were given the opportunity to acquire a seventh-round pick for the services of their then-second-year punter Brad Wing in a trade, they were comfortable enough with what they had seen from him that they were willing to pull the trigger on that trade.
Over the course of the 2015 regular season, Berry and Wing had relatively similar seasons, both of them accounting for a number of punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Neither had especially good yardage numbers—if memory serves, Wing had the slightly better gross average, Berry the better net average—while the Steelers as a unit did a bit better in terms of allowing punts to be returned.
Things began to unravel a bit in the playoffs, as Berry seemed to save his worst performance for last, and his showing in the Divisional Round game against Denver surely had at least a marginal impact on the manner in which that contest ultimately transpired.
But it is to be expected for a first-year punter to have his ups and downs, a fact that the Steelers should be well aware of, since they have dealt with no shortage of first-year punters over the course of the past half-decade. Given that fact, one can’t help but wonder if their latest camp leg, Will Monday, might just end up being their latest first-year punter. After all, Berry wasn’t expected to beat out Wing last year, though the trade opportunity played heavily in that decision.
I don’t think it would be accurate to say that his stock is down, by any means, but I don’t feel particularly compelled to say that his stock is up either. While I do expect that he will more likely than not end up as the team’s punter this year, it’s kind of been so long since I’ve seen a punter in more than one year that I don’t remember if it’s possible for them to improve over time.
That last sentence is in jest, of course, but Berry clearly has a lot of work ahead of him if he wishes to become a stable punter in this league, as he ranked in the bottom third of most categories last year, aside from the number of punts he had downed or fair caught inside the 20, but that is also a product of his offense setting up at midfield. Time will tell in which direction the young man is headed.