Now that the regular season 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 have seen and are seeing over the course of the offseason and the regular season 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 reasoning. 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. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: P Corliss Waitman
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: For the second week in a row, Corliss Waitman has acted as the Steelers’ punter as Pressley Harvin III works his way back from personal tragedy following the passing of his father, and he has made the most of the opportunities provided him.
I don’t know what the future holds for Corliss Waitman, but he has been doing himself a favor by putting out good tape two weeks in a row. The former college free agent, originally signed by the Steelers in 2019, made his NFL debut last week after spending a month this season on the New England Patriots’ practice squad.
Though it was far from a gift, Waitman signed his first-ever contract to the active roster on Christmas Day. That morning, rookie punter Pressley Harvin III’s father passed away following a long battle with illness. The Steelers had a game to play the next day. They had to fly Waitman out to Kansas City to punt in about 36 hours.
Fortunately he only had to punt twice, but he got good mileage on both boots, even if one went for a touchback. He had to put him more work during Monday’s game, punting five times, and this time he averaged 48.8 gross yards, with a long of 53. The Browns did get 29 return yards on four returns, giving him a net average of 43.0, which is still pretty solid.
One of those punts came from the back of his own end zone, off a high snap from long snapper Christian Kuntz, and which was nearly blocked. The fact that he got that off for a 44-net-yard punt (53 yards with a nine-yard return) was impressive in its own right.
His first punt was strong as well, 53 yards down to the Browns’ eight, with a return of four yards. Unfortunately Justin Layne was flagged for a facemask on the tackle, but that penalty yardage doesn’t play against Waitman’s net average.
In two games, on seven punts, the first-year punter is averaging 52.1 gross yards per punt and 42.6 net yards per punt, gross yards being the distance the punts actually travel, net yards being the punt minus the return, sans penalty yardage.
He actually has the longest gross yardage of any punter this season right now, but of course you can’t compare sample sizes. His net average would rank tied for fourth in the NFL. Harvin ranks second-to-last in both categories.