it wasn't the yardage that was the big draw, it was the hang time. it could be argued that hang time is/can be more important. gives the gunners and other defenders more time to get there and takes away chances for big returns. some guy could have a long punt but a line drive and the distance would do absolutely no good.
i was a fan of nortman ahead of any other punter coming into the draft because of that hang time. the dude gives the defenders more of a chance to get the ball stopped and him being able to place the ball anywhere he wants makes him even more valuable.
That is what I heard of as well. There were several things that they really liked about Nortman (over even Butler):
1. Hangtime - his hangtime is very good
2. Consistency - Nortman was very consistent in his kick distance and amount of hangtime. This is very important to a ST unit. Without the consistency, you can out kick your coverage, or have your gunners out running the kick (happened often last year with Baker).
3. Kicking Conditions - Nortman put up very good distance and accuracy numbers while kicking in tough conditions. He traditionally kicked in cold, rain, wind, etc. at Big 10 locations.