Joey Porter Jr. expected to hear his name called on Thursday night of the 2023 NFL Draft. One of just a handful of players invited to the draft, a strong indicator of first-round status, everything he heard and read told him he’d be taken on Day One. But the draft is unpredictable and sometimes, unforgiving, and after the top 31 picks were made, Porter was still on the board.
As Porter and his family were leaving Kansas City, an NFL Films crew caught Joey Porter Sr. giving his son an emotional pep talk. Porter Sr. appeared on the All Things Covered podcast that aired Thursday morning to explain why he took his son aside.
“I really was watching him the whole time,” Porter Sr. told the show. “I was disappointed how it didn’t go how he thought it was going to go. It was more of me feeling that way because of the whole storyline behind it. He wanted to go to the draft so bad because I was born in Kansas City, Missouri. So he was like, man, going back to the draft where my dad is from. And when it didn’t happen, I saw him putting the pressure on himself as if he did something wrong.”
If you missed the moment or want to see it again, here’s the clip of Porter Sr. talking one-on-one with Porter Jr., trying to keep his spirits high after a disappointing night.
“Now you’ve been motivated to another level,” is part of what Porter Sr. told him. “Because we’ve got something to prove. And take it personal. Because you should.”
Losing out on first-round status is disappointing. But the draft has a funny way of working out, and in the end, things broke well for Porter Jr. Thanks to the Chase Claypool trade with the Chicago Bears, the Pittsburgh Steelers wound up with the top pick of the second round and turned down numerous solid trade offers to take Porter Jr. at #32. Mike Tomlin confirmed had he already been drafted, the Steelers would’ve likely traded out of the pick.
So though Porter Jr. couldn’t walk the stage in the city his dad was born, he was drafted by the team that took his dad. Cameras captured that equally emotional moment, too. It’s a pretty solid trade-off.
On the podcast, Porter Sr. reiterated what he told his son, taking the moment personally and using it as motivation while recognizing the draft is out of his control.
“You did everything you were supposed to do. For me personally, I was just more wanting to try and help him control the feelings that he was going through,” he said. “Because he was feeling as if he let somebody down and I was like, ‘Man, that ain’t the issue.'”
The reality of the draft is there are more good players than selections. Mock drafts and analysts predict about 50 players to be potential first-round picks every year for 32 (or in 2023’s case, 31) selections. It’s the old Mike Tomlin saying of trying to fit eight pounds into a five-pound bag. Inevitably, someone is going to fall out. The cornerback class this year was a solid group with Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon, Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes, and Maryland’s Deonte Banks all getting picked on Day One. And if it wasn’t for the Steelers being able to trade up for OT Broderick Jones, there is a strong chance Porter Jr. would’ve been the Steelers’ pick at 17.
All that matters now is Porter Jr. was drafted. And he ended up in a great spot. His father’s and his hometown team, a stable organization, a good scheme fit for his press-man ability. And his mission, as his dad told him, is to prove every team that passed on him in the first round wrong.
You can check out the entire conversation between the show and Porter Sr. below.