Now that the season is over, we’ll be looking at the players the Jets have signed to futures deals since the end of the season. We continue today with a look at punter Ian Berryman.
The 23-year old is listed at 6’0” and 200 pounds and attended training camp with the Steelers last year as an undrafted rookie. He played in four preseason games but was released in final cuts. Having signed a futures deal for the Jets, he could compete for a role, especially with Lachlan Edwards out of contract.
Berryman attended Western Carolina, where he was a walk-on and redshirted his first season. However, he then held the punter job for the next four years.
He put up solid numbers over the course of his college career, including 56 punts of over 50 yards and 82 inside the 20. This led to him being a three-time all-Southern Conference selection.
In his sophomore season, Berryman was 2nd in the nation with a 44.9 yards per punt average and almost matched that as a junior with 44.4 yards per punt. However, his average dropped to 41.4 in his senior year.
Having gone undrafted, Berryman signed as an undrafted free agent with the Steelers. However, he was unable to beat out the incumbent, Jordan Berry, and was released in final cuts. The Jets signed him to a futures deal at the end of the season.
Let’s move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Berryman brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.
Berryman started his college career as a quarterback and also played some wide receiver so he has some athletic ability. However, his testing numbers as a high school recruit were underwhelming.
As noted, Berryman had 56 punts of 50 yards or more in his four year college career. Four of his nine punts in preseason action with the Steelers were over 50 yards too, although all of the four had a net of below 50.
As you can see, Berryman has a big leg and there are plenty of example on film of him getting the return man backpedaling to field a punt.
One one kick in preseason, Berryman put a 66-yard punt through the end zone. This actually landed at the back of the end zone.
He does have a tendency at times to hit the ball with a low trajectory, which can lead to the return man having room to run.
Berryman has had good results as a directional punter, other than the overhit punt in preseason that ended up in a touchback. He has a good knack for aiming his kicks towards the sideline to limit the return man’s options, although he got his angles wrong on one preseason kick that went out of bounds at the 30.
There were several plays in college and this one in preseason where the ball was downed near the goal line.
Berryman is also capable of misdirection punting, which can force the return man to have to hustle to field the ball. This can cause him to have no upfield momentum when he fields it and can increase the probability of a muffed catch.
Berryman is experienced as a holder and his experience as a high school quarterback could make him useful on fakes. He is adept at handling bad snaps both as a holder and punter.
In an emergency, Berryman could kick field goals and extra points. He made one of three field goals and one extra point in college and also made four kicks in the spring game one year.
He also kicked off a few times, but was unimpressive in this role, with the ball being fielded near the 10-yard line each time.
He had two penalties in his college career, presumably for delay of game, and had two punts blocked while at Western Carolina.
Berryman only missed one game in his college career, following a preseason injury before his senior year.
Berryman was a team captain for the Catamounts and received multiple academic honors while in college.
In an interview, he acknowledged that his drop in production in his final season was due to a technical issue - his stride length - and that he had been working to correct this issue.
Berryman was credited with two tackles in 2017, but also had a few missed tackles on long returns.
Comparison with Edwards
The former late-round draft pick Edwards is out of contract at the end of an underwhelming four years as the Jets punter but could easily be re-signed by the Jets.
Berryman’s collegiate numbers compare favorably with the Australian, though. Edwards’ best season saw him average 44.4 yards in 2014. Over the next three years, Berryman averaged 43.7, 44.9 and 44.5. He’s also four years younger.
While Berryman’s 56 punts of over 50 yards is an impressive number, Edwards posted 25 in his best year, so would have ended up with comparable or better numbers had he punted as many times as Berryman in his college career. Similarly, he put 28 kicks inside the 20 in his best year, which was two more than Berryman’s best.
Berryman probably has NFL-level punting skills, but didn’t give a great account of himself with an uneven performance in preseason. He didn’t seem to adjust too well to only getting one or two opportunities per game, faring much better when he got more chances in the last game. The incumbent Berry had contract guarantees, which always made him winning the job the most likely outcome.
Whether or not the Jets bring back Edwards - or even if they bring in someone else via the draft or free agency - Berryman will get a chance to show he can perform at this level.
However, given his lack of experience, they are likely to bring back Edwards or sign someone more established and that will likely mean he won’t be the favorite to win the role in training camp.