The NFL Draft is the last major roster-building milestone of the offseason and will dictate much about who we see in a uniform come September. For every rookie who makes the 53-man roster, that means one veteran does not. It’s circle of life as far as professional sports goes—out with the old, in with the new.
This year, we’re going to take a look at each draft pick the Pittsburgh Steelers made and examine how they are likely to impact the 53-man roster. How likely are they to make the team, how will they dictate position numbers, whose roster spot are they likely to take? You get the idea.
The Steelers drafted seven players in 2023, including four in the first three rounds, as well as two picks in the seventh. Each of them has a chance to make the roster, certainly, and I think most would be surprised if any fewer than six were on the team.
Draft Pick Name: Joey Porter Jr.
Draft Slot: Second Round (32nd overall)
Roster Outlook And Impact:
Although it was expected that the Steelers would use a high draft pick on the cornerback position, it was not a given that they would have the opportunity to draft a player like Joey Porter Jr., especially after they made the decision to go in another direction with their first-round selection.
Porter should immediately challenge for a starting job, which will have a ripple effect on the rotation. It could potentially push Levi Wallace out of a starting role, or even further, if the Steelers don’t want to play Patrick Peterson in the slot, because neither Porter nor Wallace are geared toward playing inside.
The fact that the Steelers would not budge from 32 when they had several enticing trade offers laid at their feet tells you how highly they value Porter and what he can do on the field. It would be a surprise if he is not starting some games at some point this season, even if it’s not right away.
The addition of Porter also all but assures that Ahkello Witherspoon is on his way out. Following a season of struggle and injury, his $4 million base salary is hanging on his neck like an albatross. The only thing that would likely save him is a lack of confidence in those behind him, chiefly James Pierre and rookie Cory Trice Jr.
In reality, the selection of Trice, which we’ll naturally get to later, will have a larger impact on what the roster will look like in comparison to the expected, since as mentioned at the start, a move like bringing in somebody like Porter, or at the next tier behind him, was accepted as a given all along. But the cornerback room is starting to get crowded.
The important thing for the Porter pick is that the Steelers now have somebody who could potentially develop into a very strong long-term starting option, a homegrown talent that they haven’t had in quite a while. Even Cameron Sutton took years to develop. Porter could, perhaps even should, have an immediate impact on the field.