2023 NFL Draft

Evaluating The Value: Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr.

The pick is in.

The 2023 NFL Draft is Omar Khan’s first year as the general manager and like in past years we evaluate the value of each pick. Based on projections for each player by draft outlets as well as our own reports we want to see if the pick’s value is above or below how they were ranked coming into the draft.

Round 2 (Pick 32) – Joey Porter, Jr. CB Penn State

There was speculation of a trade at the top of round two but it was all for naught. The Steelers stayed right where they were and added another position of need with the pick of Joey Porter, Jr. We all know the organization loves the family connection and this is another to add to the list. Patrick Peterson will be a mentor to him in his rookie year and hopefully help set him up for success.

Daniel Jeremiah had him ranked 23rd in his Top 150 and had this to say, “Porter Jr. has elite size, length and speed for the position. He is at his best in press coverage, where he can use his rare arm length to re-route wideouts. He is fluid when he opens up, but it’s more build-up speed than urgent/sudden quickness. In off coverage, he trusts his eyes and closes the distance with his long stride. He has a great feel for working around pass catchers to poke the ball away. He didn’t record any interceptions this past fall, but according to PFF, he only gave up one play of 15-plus yards. He is a reliable wrap/drag tackler in space. He doesn’t play with the same ferocity as his famous father, but he’s plenty tough enough for the position he plays. Overall, Porter should be a Day 1 starter capable of matching up with the bigger wideouts around the league.”

Lance Zierlein at NFL.com gave him a 6.42 grade (will become a starter within two years). He was the number three outside corner on his list and 22nd overall. His comments described Porter as an “Ascending cornerback combining traits and above average play strength that create a clear definition of who he is as a player. He can reroute the release and has the frame to close catch windows against big receivers in press-man or Cover-2 looks. Delayed transitions and sluggish change of direction put him in conflict in off coverages, so teams must pay attention to matchups and scheme in order to avoid a field full of yellow laundry. There is work to be done to improve tackle consistency in the run game, but he finishes tackles after a catch. Porter has scheme limitations, but he also has CB1 potential with more work and if utilized properly.”

Dane Brugler had him listed 16th overall on his Top 100 in his draft guide, The Beast. The number three cornerback overall was described as, “A three-year starter at Penn State, Porter was exclusively an outside cornerback in defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s man-heavy scheme. Although his college production is underwhelming, he didn’t give up a touchdown in 2022 and allowed only nine catches (on 26 targets) for 70 yards in man coverage. With impressive NFL bloodlines, Porter parks himself in front of receivers and smothers them in press to reroute and disrupt receiver timing up and down the field.

“However, he plays on his heels, loses momentum in his hip-flip and hangs on receivers to slow their routes, collecting 11 coverage penalties (nine pass interference, two defensive holding) in the past two seasons with several others that should have been called. Overall, Porter has clear bust potential with his undisciplined play style and unbalanced change of direction, but he has intriguing matchup potential in the NFL because of his aggressive length and body quickness. He projects as a classic bump-and-run cornerback and won’t be a slam-dunk fit for every scheme.”

CBS.com had Porter as the 12th player on its board and the number four corner. He was compared to Dre Kirkpatrick and was described at as, “The son of former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter is a competitive, man-coverage cornerback with great length. Despite his limited ball production, Porter does a good job of staying in-phase up the boundary and is physical at the catch point.”

Our profile on Porter. by Jonathan Heitritter had a spot-on prediction of mid-day one/early day-two candidate and analyzed his play by saying, “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.”

Once again it seems like the Steelers got a player they really coveted. It was stated that he was among the players they would have considered in the first round if they had not traded up. Getting Porter in the second round is an unforeseen bonus. It’s a position of need and a player they wanted so for the second consecutive pick, I give this selection a very good value.

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