After Day One of the legal tampering period for NFL free agency, the need for the Pittsburgh Steelers to draft a cornerback became even more pressing. After losing Cameron Sutton to the Detroit Lions and bringing in Patrick Peterson, the future at cornerback for the Steelers isn’t looking great.
In a new mock draft for CBS Sports, Ryan Wilson has the Steelers drafting their CB1 for the future in Joey Porter Jr.
“Porter finds his way to Pittsburgh, but this isn’t nepotism; he is a prototypical big, physical cornerback who looks like he belongs in the NFL,” wrote Wilson. “He can sometimes get a little too handsy downfield but that doesn’t mean he can’t be dominant at the next level. The Steelers have drafted just two CBs in Round 1 since 2002: Chad Scott and Artie Burns. Porter Jr. has a chance to be special.”
The Steelers have Peterson, Levi Wallace, Ahkello Witherspoon, Arthur Maulet as their cornerbacks going into next year. That simply isn’t good enough, and with Peterson, 32, being older he may not have much gas left in the tank.
While Peterson can certainly perform at an above-average level next season, he isn’t the future. And from what we have seen from Witherspoon and Wallace they aren’t consistent CB1 guys. Bringing in Porter Jr. not only fills a need, but also makes sense as Peterson can help mentor Porter Jr.
Porter Jr. was also a really good college player. While the interceptions weren’t there, he was a lockdown cornerback who simply didn’t allow big plays. Porter Jr. had eight pass breakups last year, and according to PFF he was only targeted 30 times.
Although Porter Jr. doesn’t have elite ball skills at this point, that could be teachable. The Steelers secondary has a lot of ballhawks and they can help teach them to whoever the Steelers draft.
At 6’2″ 193 pounds, Porter Jr. has great size. When you factor in his 34-inch arms he could be end up being a menace in man coverage. With room to grow, a veteran mentor, and good coaching Porter Jr. could become a top cornerback in the NFL, something Pittsburgh has been lacking for a long time. With elite quarterback and receivers in the AFC a top-level cornerback is a must. In Wilson’s new mock draft the Steelers may have gotten their elite outside cornerback.