With the Pittsburgh Steelers signing a veteran cornerback in Patrick Peterson this offseason, the expectation was that the former All-Pro could serve as a mentor for whatever rookie cornerback the Steelers drafted. With the team taking a corner many had linked to Pittsburgh in Joey Porter Jr., he’s going to be the primary corner for Peterson to take under his wing. While Porter has said he’s excited to pick Peterson’s brain, Peterson’s former general manager with the Minnesota Vikings Rick Spielman believes he’s going to be a great mentor. Appearing on the Cook and Joe Show on 93.7 The Fan today, Spielman talked about how the Steelers got good value in Porter Jr. and Peterson’s mentorship.
“I thought he would be gone in the first round and sometimes the draft board just falls to you. This year I thought the draft board fell right into Pittsburgh’s lap to get Joey Porter Jr,” Spielman said. “They signed Patrick Peterson who I was with in Minnesota, who will be an excellent not only player for them on a short-term basis because of his age, but an excellent mentor for Joey Porter Jr. too.”
In addition to Peterson serving as a mentor, Spielman believes that despite his advanced age for a cornerback at 32 years old, he still has good football ahead of him.
“I’ve never been around a player that is more professional than him, that takes care of his body,” Spielman said. “Even though some of the physical traits start to slide a little bit when you get into that age, he works so hard at the game and understands it so well that I think he’s going to be a perfect fit for their defense over the next couple years.”
Peterson is one of the best leaders in football, as evidenced by his spending time each week hosting dinners for the cornerback room while he was in Minnesota. In Pittsburgh, he enters a cornerback room where the most experienced player in Pittsburgh is cornerback James Pierre, meaning there’s definitely a role for someone to step up as a leader.
With two rookie corners in Porter Jr. and seventh-round pick Cory Trice Jr., Peterson’s leadership ability and mentorship are going to be key in getting those guys ready for life in the NFL. As the No. 32 overall pick, Porter Jr. is going to be the primary focus, and given how eager he seems to learn from Peterson, it’s going to be a fun dynamic to watch. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin believes it’s going to be a good partnership where both players can learn from each other and challenge each other. It’s never a bad thing if two guys are working every day to make the other one better, and watching the Steelers’ cornerback room develop is going to be interesting to watch.
Obviously, the team returns Levi Wallace, who had a solid 2022 season, his first in a Pittsburgh uniform, so you’d have to assume he’ll be one of the main outside corners along with Peterson and Porter Jr. With the amount of size and length the Steelers added to their cornerback room with Porter Jr. and Trice Jr., it’s going to be something to watch to see how they mix and match personnel.
I can’t wait for the season to get underway and see how the cornerbacks look, in particular Peterson, who is on the downswing of his career while Porter Jr. is just getting his underway. In fact, Peterson played with Joey Porter in Arizona during Peterson’s rookie year in 2011, so it’s going to be a fun storyline to watch this season.