2023 NFL Draft

Steelers Grab A Cornerback In Lance Zierlein’s First Mock Draft

Mock drafts are a dime a dozen these days. But when NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein posts one, it’s worth bringing up. In his first mock draft of the year, his pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers is a logical though expected one, mocking the team Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. at #17. Explaining the pick, he writes:

“I mean, come on. I get to put the long-limbed press corner and son of former Steelers All-Pro Joey Porter in this spot for Pittsburgh? How could I not?”

Short, sweet, to the point, and certainly none of that is wrong. If there’s a team who loves bloodlines and pedigree. Cam Heyward, Devin Bush, Terrell Edmunds, all recent first round picks who had fathers play in the NFL. But Porter Jr. takes it a step further with his dad, Joey Sr., playing for the Steelers and then becoming a linebackers coach. Though Porter was eventually let go by the team, he and Tomlin had a close relationship as high school football dads whose sons, for a time, attended the same school.

But Porter is more than just dot-connecting. He’s a legitimate first round talent. As Zierlein notes, he has great length for a corner with some believing he’ll weigh-in with record long arms for a corner, potentially 34+ inches. By comparison, Pro Bowl corner Tariq Woolen has some of the best measurables you’ll ever find in a corner and his arms were *only* 33 5/8 inches long.

In our pre-draft scouting report, our Jonathan Heitritter noted Porter’s length and ability to press and reroute receivers at the line of scrimmage while showing hit power and physicality in the open field. However, he noted a lack of elite long speed and lack of splash plays, one career interception, as knocks against. Ultimately, he concluded:

“Overall, Joey Porter Jr. is a long corner prospect that best excels when he can play close to his competition in press man situations. His length can be his greatest asset as he can contest passes in short areas as well as challenge bigger receivers in the red zone. He has experience playing in off man as well as zone coverage and can be used as a blitzer coming off the edge.”

And gave him a second round grade.

While Pittsburgh seems likely to try and re-sign Cam Sutton, it wouldn’t preclude this team from looking at another first round corner. It’s a strong class full of first round talent, names like Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon, and South Carolina’s Cam Smith, along with Porter. From a value standpoint alone, it might be the most attractive things available to the Steelers at #17. Combine the other factors of bloodlines and the “comfort” in evaluating the player and the person, similar to how familiar the team was with Kenny Pickett last year, and Porter will be sent to the Steelers in many more mock drafts until draft day actually arrives.

Elsewhere, Zierlein has Georgia DL Jalen Carter going to the Chicago Bears with the 1st overall pick. Alabama QB Bryce Young is the first offensive player off the board at #2 to Houston while Arkansas LB Drew Sanders sneaks into the Top Ten, going 8th overall to Atlanta.

Check out our full report on Porter Jr. below.

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