It’s not uncommon for fans of a team that missed the postseason to be split on what their biggest need is heading into the offseason. The 2023 Pittsburgh Steelers are no different, though there are a few popular answers. Many, for example, would cite the cornerback position, especially with Cameron Sutton’s status unknown as a pending free agent.
The concern is whether or not any of the top talents at the position would still be on the board when the Steelers pick at 17 in the first round. The likes of Christian Gonzalez and Devon Witherspoon are widely projected to go earlier than that. Many are projecting that, so too, will Joey Porter Jr. from Penn State, though he is perhaps the most likely to be there.
Or at least in reach. Which is why Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes he might be the player the Steelers are most likely to trade up for in the first round, if they were to make such a move. That’s the answer to the question he was posed in a chat session yesterday about whom he feels would be the most likely target if Pittsburgh were to move up.
“If they truly love him as a prospect, on top of all the warm and fuzzy, that’s one that would make a lot of sense”, he said in part, though he also added that he wouldn’t necessarily do it himself. “If he’d be the top CB on their board even if his name were Joe Schmo, maybe the familiarity would be enough to force their hand”.
Porter is, of course, the son of former Steelers outside linebacker Joey Porter, who helped them win the Super Bowl in 2005. While the senior Porter finished his career elsewhere, he spent time on the team’s coaching staff working with the outside linebackers not so many years ago.
Porter did not put up staggering production numbers in college. He finished with 86 career tackles with just two for loss and intercepted only one pass with 20 pass deflections, 11 of which came during the 2022 season, helping to substantially raise his stock.
Some fans, particularly those who concern themselves with worries of nepotism, have been down on the younger Porter as a prospect. Batko wonders if at least some of them aren’t convincing themselves against him because of his ties. I think there may be some truth to that, although I also don’t think he’s some slam dunk Pro Bowler.
I’m guessing most fans, though, would be opposed generally to moving up in the first round, especially after the last time didn’t work out so well with Devin Bush in 2019. That was the only time Mike Tomlin moved up at the top of the draft. Could they move down instead? Certainly. But history indicates they’re more likely to stand pat. And if Porter is there whenever they’re on the clock, he may well be the pick.