Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: P Pressley Harvin III
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The Steelers rookie big-legged punter has seemingly looked the part so far through his first spring workouts with the team as he gets set to compete with Jordan Berry for the starting—and only—job.
You don’t use a draft pick on a specialist if you don’t absolutely intend for him to be your starter. That doesn’t mean it always works out, and it is at this point that I’m obliged to insert a reference to long snapper Colin Holba. But generally speaking, when a team drafts a kicker or punter or long snapper, he makes the team.
Harvin is among the latest specialists to get drafted, and he is in a somewhat interesting position. He is going up against an incumbent punter who himself was cut last year. That would be Jordan Berry, who has been with the Steelers for half a decade, but with whom they were willing to part at the start of last season.
He was brought back when his replacement struggled, and he did actually have one of the best seasons of his career, but one would think that any tiebreakers this offseason will go to the rookie, especially given that he has the advantage of actually having a powerful leg, with Berry does not.
Danny Smith talked to reporters during minicamp, and he said that Harvin has practiced well, and even improved, in areas such as holding. He called the rookie punter a detail-oriented guy, and emphasized that he is more than just a guy with a big leg.
Berry’s strength had been in the nuance of his game, directional kicking, keeping the ball out of the end zone, and things of that nature. While he has room to grow, Harvin is also capable of the minutiae, and Smith said that they are working on him in those areas. But I think when the preseason comes, the differences between the two punters will be clear.