The Pittsburgh Steelers took cornerback Joey Porter with the first pick of the second round, #32 overall, Friday night in the 2023 NFL Draft.
#9 Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (R-Junior) – 6020, 194lb
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Joey Porter Jr.||6’2, 194lb||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Has great height and length for the position with the frame to fill out more (6’2, 198lb)
— Isn’t particularly fast in the open field, but has good recovery speed if a receiver gets on top of him
— Has experience in the slot, but has seen most of his action on the outside
— Does his best work up-close and personal in press man coverage, using his length and physicality to throw WRs off their route
— Played in a system that required him to play press man, off man, and in zone coverages
— Can body up bigger receivers and TEs over the middle of the field, along the sideline and in the red zone
— Length and leaping ability aids in contesting 50/50 balls to the receiver
— Has a freakish wingspan that helps blanket receivers in coverage
— Willing tackler when it comes to downhill pursuit in the run game
— Aggressive when it comes to hitting the ballcarrier with improved consistency from last season
— Can bring some punishment when asked to blitz off the edge
— Plays hard and shows effort in pursuit as a tackler, chasing guys down from behind or triggering quickly downfield
— Could stand to add more size and strength to his frame to get off blocks better
— Good athlete, but doesn’t possess great deep speed or explosiveness
— Can improve as a tackler, often dropping his head and diving at the defender
— Instincts in coverage have improved, but can stall at times at the top of the receiver’s route as he anticipates the break
— Will be slow to react to changes in direction, leading to separation being created by his assigned coverage receiver
— Has a bad habit of grabbing receivers down the field and at the top of route stems, leading to PI calls
— Very light ball production at the position with one INT in three seasons
— Redshirt Junior prospect from Bakersfield, CA
— Father, Joey Sr., was the outside linebackers coach for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers and played 13 seasons for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, and Arizona Cardinals
— Cousin, Jason Gildon, played 10 years for the Steelers and one season for the Jacksonville Jaguars
— Cousins Larry Birdine Jr and Sheldon Croney Jr., played college football with Birdine playing three seasons in the NFL
— Majoring in rehabilitation and human services with plans to take over his mother’s business, The Jasmine Nyree Day Center
— Moved from CA to play football at North Allegheny High School in PA
— Named All-USA Pennsylvania Football Team first team by USA Today in 2018
— Rated a four-star prospect by 247Sports and ESPN
— Also, an accomplished track and field athlete in high school
— Appeared in four games as a true freshman in 2019, recording three total tackles and one PBU
— Appeared and started in eight games in 2020 and made 33 tackles on the season (24 solo) to go along with two tackles for loss, one sack and four pass breakups
— Made 13 starts at cornerback in 2021 and finished with 51 tackles (40 solo), one forced fumble, one interception and four pass breakups
— Played and started ten games in 2022, finishing the season with 27 tackles (21 solo), 11 PBUs, and a fumble recovery
— Missed two games in 2022 with appendicitis
— Second-team All-American (2022), first-team All-Big Ten (2022), Penn State’s Most Valuable Defensive Player (2022) third-team All-Big Ten (2021), honorable mention All-Big Ten (2020)
If the name Joey Porter Jr. sounds familiar to you, it probably should. Porter is indeed the son of former Pittsburgh Steelers OLB and OLB coach Joey Porter Sr. who left a mark as one of the key pieces of a stout defense that helped take home the Lombardi trophy in Super Bowl XL. His son has followed in his father’s footsteps, relocating from California to North Allegheny when his dad started coaching in Pittsburgh and made himself a sought-after high school recruit at cornerback. Porter ended up choosing in-state Penn State where he spent one year as a reserve before becoming an entrenched starter the past two seasons.
When you pop in the tape on Porter, you see a long, lanky CB that uses his length well in coverage. He can cover up larger portions of space and minimize passing lanes thanks to his reach as well as his leaping ability to challenge jump balls. Here is an example against Minnesota where Porter runs with the receiver up the sideline, gets his head around, and tips the pass away thanks to his impressive length.
His pure size and height also aid in his ability to smother opposing receivers at the LOS and cover them up as they get into their routes. Watch at the top of your screen as Porter gets his hands on the receiver on the snap of the football and stays sticky with him as he breaks inside on his route, making the QB go another direction with the football.
When he’s in position, Porter does a good job playing through the receiver’s hands at the catch point in an attempt to deflect passes. Watch this first rep against Indiana where Porter runs in-stride with the WR up the sideline and reacts to him turning back to the football, reaching his right arm through to contest the pass and force the incompletion. In the second clip, we see Porter gets hands on the Purdue receiver at the LOS, giving up an inside release, but does a good job playing through the receiver’s hands at the catch point, forcing the incomplete pass on the slant route.
This next rep by Porter shows both good coverage ability as well as great effort in pursuit. See how Porter aligns in the slot and covers up Wilson in tight man coverage. However, #7 C.J. Stroud throws the ball to #11 Jaxon Smith-Njigba who catches the ball and turns upfield. Porter gets on his horse and manages to run down Smith-Njigba from behind, preventing the long TD catch-and-run.
Porter has also flashed his father’s skill set as a pass rusher at times at Penn State when sent off the edge as a blitzer. Whether it be run support or as a pass rusher, Porter has the speed and long strides to cover ground quickly to get into the backfield as we see on this sack against the Hoosiers.
Porter is a willing tackler when it comes to run support, being quick to trigger downhill and wrap up his opponent to bring him to the ground. Watch Porter react here against the Buckeyes, running past the block on the screen attempt, blowing up the play in the backfield.
When it comes to deep speed, Porter is lacking in this area of his game as receivers will get on top of him vertically. Still, his long legs and frame aid in his ability to recover quickly if a receiver does get a step on him like on this rep against Marvin Harrison Jr.
Porter manages to get his hands on a fair share of footballs but has had a tough time converting those over into turnovers. He has only one INT in nearly 3 1/2 seasons of college football and needs to capitalize more on those opportunities when they present themselves like on this play here against the Boilermakers where Porter breaks on the ball, but can’t catch it, tipping it to the receiver for the first down.
Joey Porter Jr. has a bad habit of grabbing opposing receivers at the top of their route as they come out of their break. Since he doesn’t move his feet quickly enough in transition due to being tight-hipped, Porter will allow separation, causing him to panic and grab the opposition, resulting in pass interference calls like you see here against Ohio State.
There will be times when Porter will get away with grabbing and holding an opposing receiver past the LOS, but those no-calls will certainly get called at the next level like this play here with Marvin Harrison Jr. making the catch after Porter yanks on him as he comes out of his break. You love to see Porter compete all the way through the rep, but he will have to continue to clean up his game to avoid costly penalties in the league.
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.
Still, Porter lacks great twitch and fluid transition skills at the position, being slow to react at times to route stems in front of him which leads to getting too hands-on with WRs. He has done a good job to clean up his tackling but still needs to improve his awareness and lateral movement skills to be in better position with receivers throughout the entire route.
When watching Porter, Michael Davis of the Los Angeles Chargers came to mind as a reasonable pro comparison. Davis was an UDFA out of BYU back in 2017, also being a long, lean cover corner (6’2, 195lb) that does his best work contesting bigger receivers in close quarters with his length or playing the ball in front of him in zone. Like Porter, Davis is a good, yet not elite athlete that can struggle at times transitioning in coverage due to his length against smaller, shiftier WRs. Still, Davis has become quite the cover man for the Chargers, earning a contract extension after starting 61 games for the team while racking up seven INTs and a whopping 59 PBUs since 2017.
At this point, I see a similar career path for Porter who will entice NFL teams with his size, length, and bloodline as well as being a reported high-character player. Still, he will have to greatly improve his consistency in coverage as well as cut down on the PI calls to be relied upon as a team’s CB1. With Pittsburgh’s uncertainty around the status of Ahkello Witherspoon and William Jackson III and Cam Sutton and James Pierre scheduled to hit free agency this spring, we could see Porter follow in his father’s footsteps as a likely draft target for Pittsburgh given their affinity for NFL bloodlines, the need, and the background information they have on the young man.
Projection: Mid-Day One/Early Day Two
Depot Draft Grade: 8.2 – Future Quality Starter (2nd Round)
Games Watched: at Purdue (2022), vs Ohio State (2022), at Minnesota (2022), at Ohio State (2021), vs Auburn (2021), at Indiana (2020)
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