A new mini-series for Steelers Depot this offseason. We’re taking a look at which Steelers are under the brightest lights this offseason. Players who need to have big years in make-or-break seasons. Marching on with punter Pressley Harvin III.
PRESSLEY HARVIN III/P (SECOND YEAR)
Harvin is one of the Steelers’ rookies in desperate need of a second-year leap. Drafted with the team’s final selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, Harvin enjoyed a good though up-and-down summer to beat out incumbent Jordan Berry. Harvin flashed a booming leg and great hangtimes, highlighted by a perfect punt in the Hall of Fame Game against the Dallas Cowboys.
But things soured from there, especially when the games counted. Harvin labored through an inconsistent, frustrating season, one that saw him deal with more than enough personal tragedy, losing his father and grandma over the course of the season. It led to the team finding an emergency Christmas replacement, signing Corliss Waitman who in limited action, outperformed Harvin.
Through his rookie season, Harvin finished 28th in total average (42.6 yards) and 27th in net average (38.0), numbers easily worse than what Jordan Berry posted in 2020. For reference, a good net average should be right around 42 yards – that puts you in the top ten in football. And Pittsburgh, for lots of reasons, haven’t had a qualified punter rank top ten in net yards since 2010 when Daniel Sepulevda finished sixth in the league. That’s too long of a drought for this team.
To be fair, net isn’t entirely tied to a punter, it takes into consideration the coverage unit too, but punters who generally have worse hangtime and consistency end up with the lowest nets. Johnny Hekker, A.J. Cole, Jack Fox, Thomas Morstead all finished top ten in net last year and are regarded as among the best punters in football. There’s perhaps a slight bias to those who punt in domes (like Fox) or in warmer weather climates, but still, Harvin’s numbers were worse than what Berry had done for most of his Steelers’ career.
While Harvin is only in his second season and is the clear in-house favorite to be the team’s starting punter, his spot isn’t written in pen. He’s competing not only with Cameron Nizialek but the entire waiver wire, and there are often veteran punters who get cut by the end of August, just like Berry in 2021. If Harvin’s struggles and inconsistences continue, the team could replace him. They need a good punter to prop up a below-average offense. Field position is going to be critical to help out a defense with their own question marks and pressure. Harvin must be that guy and fast. If not, his Steelers’ career will come to a short, bitter end.