Being the son of a former NFL player and position coach certainly has its perks. For Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr., those perks included free access to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ facility growing up as a kid, where he was able to watch and learn from the best in the business.
Now, Porter Jr. is months away from being on the other side of that experience, this time as a player rather than an observer. Speaking to reporters at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis Thursday, Porter Jr. recalled his experience as the son of former Steelers’ outside linebacker and outside linebackers coach Joey Porter, and spoke fondly of the time he got to go up against one Steelers’ superstar that had quite the impact on him.
“I remember as a young kid I did one-on-ones with AB [Antonio Brown], so that was a nice treat,” Porter Jr. said regarding his experience in the Steeles’ South Side facility. “I know he wasn’t going 100 percent, but just to be able to line up against him was something special.”
That was certainly a special treat for a player who went on to become a 4-star recruit at cornerback with offers from big-name schools like LSU, Miami, West Virginia and Nebraska before he ultimately chose Penn State.
Though it’s very likely that AB, who was at the height of his powers while a member of the Steelers from 2010-18, wasn’t going 100%, just giving Porter Jr. that opportunity to go up against the top receiver in the game and try and learn from the best in the business had to be rather enlightening and had a profound impact on the younger Porter.
“I just came in to be a sponge with every guy that was in the facility,” Porter Jr. added regarding his experience in the Steelers’ facility. “They didn’t really have too much time to talk to me or tell me too much information. But yeah, it was a great experience.”
All these years later, Porter will now be going up against the top competition weekly and has a good shot at being the first cornerback off the board in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Though Porter didn’t make a ton of high-impact plays in college with just one career pick, which could be an issue for a Steelers’ secondary focused on taking the football away, he remains a rather intriguing blend of size, speed and physicality for the position.
In our pre-draft profile, Jonathan Heitritter praised his willingness to tackle and ability to play press coverage. But he also showed concern over a lack of elite long speed and not having high-end instincts. Porter’s arm length should be a topic of conversation this weekend at the Combine. He’s expected to have record length for the position with 34+ inch arms. Some have even speculated he’ll come in at 35 inches, a number that would be outstanding for an offensive tackle, let alone a defensive back.
How that experience with Antonio Brown years ago helped him is anyone’s guess, but it remains a core memory for the pending NFL cornerback. He’ll get a chance to make more memories like that on his own in the NFL, too, which could occur in a Steelers uniform as well.
That, for Porter Jr. and his family, would be a dream come true.
“I think it would probably mean a lot for me and my family,” Porter Jr. said. “I’ve been in the Pittsburgh area for a little bit now, so staying at home would mean a lot.”