A press-man cornerback with great length, physicality and athleticism, Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. is the new-age cornerback teams are consistently searching for in recent seasons.
Turns out, that search has ended — for now — for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pittsburgh selected Porter Jr. at No. 32 overall to open Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, and according to defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, the 6020, 194-pound cornerback fits well with what the Steelers want to do defensively.
“I think it does. I think one of the things that we always do, we look at guys and we want to know, ‘hey, how do they play in the press?’ Cuz we’re gonna be playing, man, you guys know that. But we’re gonna also play some zones and we’re also gonna ask these guys to tackle some big backs in our division. And he’s got the ability to do all those things,” Austin said to reporters Friday night following the selection of Porter Jr. at No. 32 overall. “And so, when you start looking at skill sets, I felt really comfortable with what he brought to the table for us. So we were good there.”
After losing veteran cornerback Cameron Sutton in free agency to the Detroit Lions, the Steelers needed to figure out the answer to the press-man cornerback question. Patrick Peterson is better in zone coverage, while Levi Wallace has had some success in press man.
That answer was found with Porter Jr., who thrived in press-man coverage during his time at Penn State.
According to The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, Porter Jr. didn’t give up a touchdown in 2022 and allowed only nine catches (on 26 targets) for 70 yards in man coverage. That’s a remarkable number, and will be a huge boost to the Steelers’ rebuilt cornerback room.
We’ll see what the plan is for Porter Jr. in his first season with the Steelers, but he’ll get a chance to compete for a starting job in Pittsburgh. He will also get to learn and grow from Peterson, who is embracing his mentorship role in the Steel City.