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PFF Tabs Joey Porter Jr. As Top Non-First Round Rookie That Can Be Immediate Starter

Not only did former Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. land in a great situation with the Pittsburgh Steelers due to his family ties and residence within the Steel City, he landed in a great situation for his development and potential impact as a rookie in 2023.

A long, physical cornerback with great athleticism, Porter projects as that lockdown press-man cornerback that the Steelers have coveted for years. Now, they finally have him, and he’ll be a key part of the rebuild at the position following an offseason in which the Steelers lost Cameron Sutton in free agency to the Detroit Lions, signed Patrick Peterson in free agency, drafted Porter and Cory Trice Jr. out of Purdue, and then surprisingly released Arthur Maulet.

On the depth chart, things are shaping up well for Porter to have an immediate impact as that outside corner. According to Pro Football Focus’ Max Chadwick, Porter is one of just five non-Round 1 rookies who can be immediate starters, with Chadwick listing Porter as the top candidate among those players.

“While Porter is technically a second-round pick, it’s almost as if he was taken in the first round since he went 32nd overall,” Chadwick writes regarding Porter as a rookie who can be an immediate starter for PFF. “He’ll be an immediate fan-favorite as the son of Joey Porter, a former All-Pro edge defender who’s a member of the Steelers’ all-time team. The younger Porter also fills a massive need for Pittsburgh at cornerback and would’ve been a worthy selection in the first round. He should start immediately opposite Patrick Peterson at outside cornerback.”

There’s no denying that the selection of Porter filled a massive need, but what exactly his role will be right away in Pittsburgh is still to be determined.

On paper, it might be a bit safe to assume that Peterson and Levi Wallace will be Week 1 starters on the outside in the Steelers’ base defense. Where things could get interesting for Porter is when the Steelers go into their sub packages in nickel and dime. Will Peterson kick inside to the slot? Maybe Wallace? Those two moves would allow Porter to get on the field in that outside corner role, letting him get his feet wet in the NFL.

Of course, the former Penn State star could throw all those potential plans out the window by hitting the ground running in OTAs, minicamp and then on into training camp and preseason with strong play, forcing the Steelers’ hand at the position. That would be the best-case scenario for the Steelers.

While defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said there will be no training wheels or a redshirt year for Porter, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the franchise bring him along slowly at one of the most challenging positions in football. Immediate starter seems like a bit of a stretch from PFF, but crazier things have happened.

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