As many draftniks and Steelers fans predicted several months ago, Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr. is now Pittsburgh Steeler. Falling out of the first round, Porter was there for the taking at the top of the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft as Pittsburgh owned the first pick to start the night. With Porter still being on the board, it was a chalk pick for a team that addressed OT with Broderick Jones in Round 1 to take Porter and address arguably the next biggest need at CB.
Steelers DC Teryl Austin spoke to the media following the selection of Porter and was asked about Porter’s lack of ball production in college and if that may be an issue for him in the league.
“We know the issue in terms of he has lack of ball production, but that is always something that you can work on,” Austin said Friday, via video from the Steelers’ YouTube channel. “And as long as he’s good and he’s doing all the other things that he does well, we’ll be glad with him.”
Porter started 31 games for the Nittany Lions, but finished his college career with just one INT. Still, Porter displayed commendable press man coverage skills, using his length and size to jam receivers at the LOS and his condor wingspan to minimize passing lanes. He broke up 20 passes in his college career, including 11 in 2022. He has the skill set to become a prototypical starting boundary CB that can improve his ball production with better awareness while in close quarters with receivers in coverage.
Austin was also asked about Porter’s size and his lack of testing in the short-area quickness drills at the NFL Combine. Austin responded that while Porter is a bigger corner with some physical limitations, he makes up for it with his size and length.
“Here’s the one thing I’ve learned in my time in this league,” Austin said. “Those big guys are going to look different than the little guys and they may not look as fast and maybe sometimes not move as fast, but they cover more ground. And when I’ve had the taller corners, sometimes it doesn’t look the same, but the job gets done the same. He may not move as fast as a smaller guy in terms of lateral movement, but the ground he covers is going to be bigger and better.”
When writing Porter’s pre-draft profile for Steelers Depot, I noted that he can be slow to react to changes in direction, leading to separation being created by his assigned coverage receiver. You saw this at times last season with likes of Charlie Jones from Purdue and Marvin Harrison Jr. from Ohio State, getting the better of him at the top of their routes when they would break to the inside.
However, Austin had a great point regarding Porter’s makeup speed thanks to his length and long strides, being able to cover ground quickly to catch up and be in-position to contest passes.
Porter did well shutting down WRs at the college level thanks to his traits as a big, physical man cover corner. He will struggle a little bit against smaller, shiftier receivers at the next level, but his size help make up for his physical limitations as a lateral athlete, having the frame to still be in position to make plays on the football.