Steelers Would Have Drafted Joey Porter Jr. ‘Much Earlier’ Than 32nd Overall, Mike Tomlin Says

After the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft ended, there was a ton of speculation and reports that the Pittsburgh Steelers would eventually trade out of the 32nd overall selection on day-two. While it has since been confirmed that the Steelers received numerous offers for that first pick in the second round, head coach Mike Tomlin again addressed the topic during his Thursday appearance on The Rich Eisen Show.

“We were open to doing business, particularly if someone was interested in doing some drastic business, you know, if someone really wanted that pick,” Tomlin told Eisen. “We just didn’t get enough action to stimulate us.”

The Steelers obviously ended up standing pat with that first pick in the second round and they used it to select cornerback Joey Porter Jr. out of Penn State. Tomlin told Eisen on Thursday that it would have taken a very serious offer for the Steelers to have traded away from Porter, who was mocked quite frequently to Pittsburgh in the first round at 17th overall throughout the pre-draft process.

“There was a guy there [Porter] that we were very familiar with that we thought was definitely worthy of that pick,” Tomlin told Eisen. “We probably would’ve been comfortable with him much earlier than that. There was a position of need for us and so it was going to take a significant maneuver by someone to get us off the spot, but we were open. It’s just prudent business to be open.”

We’ll probably never know what the best offer that the Steelers received for that 32nd pick was and additionally, how far they would have had to move down had they traded. Would they have still been able to select Porter had they moved down just one or two spots? Maybe. All that said, the Steelers were obviously more than comfortable taking Porter at 32nd overall. After all, they probably would’ve selected him at 17th overall had they missed out on their ultimate first round selection, Georgia tackle Broderick Jones.

“It’s really cool,” Tomlin told Eisen regarding Porter now being a Steeler. “My son and Joey Jr. are really good friends, they have been since they were middle school age, and so he’s been at my house quite a bit over the years. And so, it’s just a really interesting and cool thing to be able to do business with someone that you’ve got a personal relationship with. You know their background, man, you’ve known them since they were a kid and you’re not compromising any of the things that you value in terms of the business component of it, the need, and all of that.”

Porter took part in the Steelers rookie minicamp last weekend and now he’s preparing to participate in the team’s first set of OTA practices next week. He’s angling to become a starter Week 1, which isn’t as big of a task now than it was on draft day as the Steelers have since parted ways with two cornerbacks who had been under contract in Arthur Maulet and Ahkello Witherspoon. While Porter definitely won’t be handed a starting job this summer, one can’t dismiss the possibility of it going to him when the smoke finally clears come September.

Another interesting dynamic related to Porter and the Steelers 2023 draft is the fact that the team also drafted another long outside cornerback in the seventh round in Cory Trice Jr. out of Purdue. Heading into the draft, Trice was expected to come off the board by at least the end of the fourth round. Some medical concerns seemingly played a big role in him dropping into the Steelers lap in the seventh round.

Trice, like Porter, will surely remember his draft drop and that should provide nice motivation for the two of them throughout the summer. It should also produce the two pushing each other during OTAs and training camp.

At this point, I’m fine with the Steelers not trading away from Porter and hopefully I’ll have no reason to change that opinion several years from now. The Steelers failing to get a big enough offer to trade out of the 32nd overall spot might very well wind up being one of the biggest draft trades they never made. Right now, it sounds like Tomlin thinks that might have been the case as well.

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