The Pittsburgh Steelers moved on from a few players this afternoon, and P Pressley Harvin III was one of them. He was taken in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft, so he did not even make it through his rookie contract before the Steelers decided it was time to move on. There were times when he flashed a huge leg capable of flipping the field for the Steelers, but all too often, he would shank one for 30 yards, and it always seemed to happen in weighty moments of games.
Anyone who watches the team knows that it was a problem. The Steelers are a team built to grind out a field position battle against their opposition, but Harvin was consistently a part of losing that battle.
This really puts the Steelers’ problems finding a punter into perspective when looking at their all-time leaders at the position. Harvin is higher on the list than you may think. With a net yards per punt of 39.4, he is actually the third-best punter in franchise history with a minimum of 100 punts. It is roughly the same when you look at raw yardage per punt without returns factored in, as he is tied for the third-best in franchise history at 43.7 with Daniel Sepulveda.
They only started tracking net yards per punt in 1976, but the fact that only two or three punters have outperformed Harvin for the Steelers in at least the last 50 years is telling of the overall problem.
Harvin ended the 2023 season with 39.1 net yards per punt, which was tied for the third-worst mark in the league among punters with at least 40 attempts. For reference, the league’s best punter finished with 45.3 net yards per punt. An extra 6.2 yards of field position per punt may not sound like much, but over the course of the 78 attempts that Harvin had this year, that comes out to nearly 500 yards.
What makes this even more frustrating is the fact that the Steelers initially carried two punters on their 53-man roster coming out of training camp. The other, Braden Mann, stuck with the Philadelphia Eagles and finished the season with 43.8 net yards per punt. That is good enough for the fourth-best mark in the league.
Especially when watching Super Bowl LVIII, where the game was a grind-it-out field position battle from start to finish, it was very evident that the Steelers could not have competed in that type of game. While the Steelers excel in low-scoring defensive battles, Harvin was actively hurting those efforts week in and week out.
The Steelers turned to Brad Wing last season while Harvin was hurt, but he performed roughly the same and is 33 years old at this point. The last time the Steelers were in need of a punter, they drafted one. Could they do something similar this year with the 2024 NFL Draft’s best punter, Iowa’s Tory Taylor?