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Steelers Rookie Review: Recalling the draft profile of Joey Porter Jr.

Even though there is one game left to sum up the 2023 NFL season, the Pittsburgh Steelers are in full-blown offseason mode. As both the Steelers, as well as we here at the Steel Curtain Network, prepare for the start of the 2024 league years and the associated free agency period, as well as the 2024 NFL draft, it’s good before we get too far into the process of looking at next season to look back at some various things from the 2023 Steelers.

As I continue to work through the Exit Interviews article series of covering every player from the 2023 Steelers and their status for 2024, another fun idea is to check out last year‘s rookie class and what was said about them before the 2023 NFL draft. With all the analysis looking at 2024, sometimes it’s fun just to see how much those profiling players got things right, or wrong.

Continuing on, here are some of the various draft breakdowns for cornerback Joey Porter Jr. last offseason heading into the 2023 NFL draft.


Pro Football Network

Full report HERE

Current Draft Projection for Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr.

Coming out of college, Porter still has some technique work to undergo before he reaches his ceiling. That said, Porter grades out as a top 50 prospect on my board, a potential Round 1 contender, and a potential scheme-versatile boundary starter at his ultimate ceiling.

While Porter doesn’t always play to his explosiveness numbers, he does bring a very enticing mix of reactive athleticism, corrective twitch, and fluidity for a 6’2″ cornerback with quantifiably elite length. On top of that, he’s constantly physical in contact situations and showcases high-level instincts and ball skills when quarterbacks challenge him.

Ahead of anything else, Porter needs to play lower in his stance and be more consistent with his off-man technique. He’s shown he can speed up his feet when matching, but his foot speed and hand precision can be inconsistent. And when he doesn’t effectively sink his hips on his backpedal and on transitions, a wrench can be thrown in his process.

Despite these flaws, Porter is a young and naturally talented defender with the mindset needed to compete at CB. He should spend most of his time on the boundary, but he’s shown he can slide into the slot as well if needed. And while he has room to improve technically, he’s far from a liability there. He brings good discipline and great reactive quickness and has the tools to lock down WRs early in reps.

With his short-area burst and fluidity, long speed, and overwhelming length, Porter can be a quality NFL starter early on, with impact potential at a premier position. He can be more consistent as a playmaker in run support, but he has enticing dual-phase playmaking upside, as well as projected versatility between man and zone alignments.

NFL.com

Full report HERE

Overview

Ascending cornerback combining traits and above average play strength that create a clear definition of who he is as a player. He can reroute the release and has the frame to close catch windows against big receivers in press-man or Cover 2 looks. Delayed transitions and sluggish change of direction put him in conflict in off coverages, so teams must pay attention to matchups and scheme in order to avoid a field full of yellow laundry. There is work to be done to improve tackle consistency in the run game, but he finishes tackles after a catch. Porter has scheme limitations, but he also has CB1 potential with more work and if utilized properly.

Strengths

  • Father is a former Pro Bowler and was an undisputed alpha during his playing career.
  • The most physical reroutes in this year’s draft.
  • Smart hand usage helps cover when feet are late.
  • Recovery and length to swat away would-be catches underneath.
  • Closes the catch space when he’s in position.
  • Can win high-point challenges even from trail position.
  • Matchup potential against pass-catching tight ends.
  • Spins sticky tackle web when he gets his hands on receivers.

Weaknesses

  • Noticeable delay in transitions from press.
  • Struggles to slide and match release quickness.
  • Not twitchy enough to match a complex route.
  • Too grabby at the top of the route.
  • Needs extra steps to plant and drive from top of his drop.
  • Lacking change-of-direction quickness as open-field tackler.

Bleacher Report

Full report HERE

OVERALL

Joey Porter Jr. is a physical cornerback with ideal length and size. He’s an aggressive cover corner who likes to play press and get his hands on receivers to disrupt routes.

Due to his height (6’2″), he can struggle with his pad level at times, which causes him to rise up out of his stance and occasionally lose a step. His elite athleticism gives him the recovery speed to catch up to receivers and the top-end speed to travel with them deep.

When playing the ball, Porter shows good understanding of route timing by getting his head around to locate the ball and shooting his hands to break up passes at the reception point. He tends to get too handsy downfield with receivers, which he’ll need to clean up in the NFL.

When playing the run game, Porter does a good job of identifying and reacting to what he sees. He isn’t afraid to come up and stick his nose in the mix. Though he has shown to shoot the gap, he has some tightness when bending around blocks. Porter is a good tackler who generally shoots for the legs to wrap and wrestle ball-carriers down to the ground.

Porter is the best cornerback in this draft class. He may not be as polished as some of the other top cornerbacks in previous classes, but with his length and physicality, he’s comparable.
Porter will need to clean up his hand usage and placement when in coverage, but his ball skills and awareness will serve him well in the NFL. He will be on the top of the cornerback board for many teams and should only continue to get better.


So there are some of the draft profiles for Joey Porter Jr. last year ahead of the 2023 NFL draft. Now with a season under his belt, how accurate do you think these profiles were? Is Porter living up to what he was believed to be ahead of a draft? Is he more than what was expected? Please make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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