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Thanks To Strong Schedule, Joey Porter Jr. Tabbed As One Of Best ‘Long-Shot’ Defensive ROY Bets

Since 1967 — the first year that the NFL introduced the Defensive Rookie of the Year award — just nine cornerbacks have won the award.

That’s not a lot compared to the number of defensive linemen and linebackers that have claimed the award, but fortunately for Pittsburgh Steelers rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr., the award is trending in the right direction for the Penn State product.

Dating back to 2015, three cornerbacks have won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, including last year’s award winner in the New York Jets’ Sauce Gardner. Along with Gardner, New Orleans’ Marshon Lattimore won the award in 2017 and Marcus Peters won the award with Kansas City in 2015.

Enter Porter, one of the top cornerbacks in the rookie class, and according to Pro Football Focus’ Gordon McGuinness, one of the best long-shot Defensive Rookie of the Year bets in the NFL overall at +2500.

“Porter may start right away on the outside for the Steelers in what is a solid secondary, and he could see some high-profile matchups, battling with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals, Odell Beckham Jr. with the Baltimore Ravens and Amari Cooper with the Cleveland Browns in the AFC North,” McGuinness writers regarding Porter’s chances at Defensive Rookie of the Year for “And his out-of-division battles could include Davante Adams of the Las Vegas Raiders, DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals and the combination of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks, so there are enough big-name matchups to build a narrative if Porter can put up some solid coverage snaps.

“In his final season at Penn State, he was on the field for 275 coverage snaps and was targeted 30 times. From those 30 targets, he allowed just 15 receptions for 143 yards and had nine pass breakups. There’s already some hype around him as a player who fell further than expected, and he has the skill set to put himself firmly in the race for Defensive Rookie of the Year early in 2023.”

Porter landed in a rather ideal spot for early playing time, and not only that, the scheme fits him quite well. Add in the fact that he’s coming home and stepping into a facility he knows well with faces he’s familiar with and it’s really hard to see how it will be anything but ball for Porter right away in 2023.

That could allow him to hit the ground running. While he does have a potential gauntlet of matchups within the AFC North and outside of the division with the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, and DK Metcalfe, he has the build, play style and overall experience in the Big Ten to hold up well and learn quickly against those high-end receivers.

For Porter to be truly considered for the DROY award in 2023, he’s going to need to add some splash plays to his resume. It’s well-known that Porter had just one interception in his three seasons at Penn State. Maybe that changes in the NFL as he gets targeted more, especially early in his career.

Granted, Gardner had just two picks last season, but he did have a league-high 20 pass breakups.

There’s a path there for Porter to put himself in the DROY discussion right away. Let’s see if he can hit the ground running on that path.

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