Now that the 2019 NFL Draft is underway, and the roster heading into the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we head toward training camp.
Player: P Jordan Berry
Stock Value: Down
Chris Boswell isn’t the only specialist on the roster for whom the Steelers have tried to add competition this offseason. In fact, I would argue that Ian Berryman is a better rookie punter prospect than Matthew Wright is a rookie kicker prospect. Which should mean that Jordan Berry also understands his job is on the line.
It hasn’t really been tested all that much since his first season with the team when he performed well enough that the Steelers were willing to trade incumbent Brad Wing when the New York Giants offered them a seventh-round pick for him.
The only real competition they ever brought in for him was veteran Adam Podlesh a few years ago, but as you might remember, he never reported because of a scary, life-threatening pregnancy that his wife was going through. He never ended up trying to hook up with another team after that, though he did already have a seven-year career by then as a former fourth-round pick.
Special teams coordinator Danny Smith spoke frankly about Berry’s current state earlier this offseason, saying that “he’s played well at times and played very average at times”, adding that “he’s quite capable, but we need a consistency level from him”.
Berry previously said that he believes a relatively strong finish to the 2018 season was the reason that the Steelers decided to bring him back yet again, fully aware that he got off to a rough start that year. He knows that he can’t afford another slow start.
After all, a good beginning is the only reason he ever got this job in the first place, because the team seemed to like Wing at that time. Perhaps they would have kept Wing if they weren’t offered a draft pick for him.
But Berryman, I think, should prove to be solid competition. At least he has the resume that would indicate that potential. The veteran will be given partiality in the decision-making, but if Berryman is clearly the better punter, he will win the job.