The Indianapolis Colts made a splash move by signing All-Pro cornerback, Stephon Gilmore, to a two-year, $23 million deal late in free agency. While Gilmore is a top talent on the outside, his age and injury history should give the Colts some hesitation about cornerback moving forward.
Colts’ general manager Chris Ballard has to feel there is room for improvement in terms of depth and long-term viability, especially after trading Rock Ya-Sin to the Raiders for Yannick Ngakoue.
In their early 2023 NFL mock draft, Nate Tice and Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic see Indianapolis attacking the cornerback position early during the 2023 draft by selecting Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., son of former Pittsburgh Steelers star Joey Porter.
Porter Jr. Is More Than a Big Name
Porter Jr., a redshirt junior for Penn State, is a feisty and physical cornerback. At 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, he has the perfect size and build of a modern-day NFL boundary corner. In 2021, Porter Jr. started all 13 games and finished with 51 tackles, a forced fumble, an interception, and 4 pass deflections on his way to being named to the third-team All-Big Ten.
According to Pro Football Focus, Porter Jr. had 6 forced incompletions during Penn State’s first game of 2022. He was extremely sticky in coverage and tallied 8 tackles as he officially launched his campaign to be a first-round pick next April.
New Colts’ defensive coordinator Gus Bradley would have a field day using porter in his scheme. Bradley’s heavy cover three usage allows cornerbacks to lock down their side of the field to let the single-high safety roam in coverage.
In his mock draft, Tice wrote “Porter is a smart and physical player who can get a little too handsy at times. But his competitive nature is apparent on tape, and he is more than willing to press, snap after snap. He has the ability to play outside in man coverage or move inside, when needed, which will only make him more well-liked by NFL evaluators. Porter’s length and football IQ would make him a great fit in Gus Bradley’s single-high attack that asks its cornerbacks to hold up repeatedly in man or match situations.”
Porter Jr. would be a stellar choice opposite Gilmore. Having the opportunity to learn from one of the best NFL cornerbacks in recent memory would be invaluable for the Nittany Lion star. Porter Jr. could give the Colts an answer to the position that has plagued them for far too long.
Other Names to Watch
With cornerback being an obvious need for Indianapolis, it is worth taking notice of other names that could be called during the early part of the 2023 draft.
The top of the cornerback class is loaded with talent. The first name you will hear is Keelee Ringo, the Georgia star who solidified their NCAA championship. He has all the speed you need to cover some of the top names in college football. Cam Smith from South Carolina could be another option. Smith allowed only 15 receptions throughout all of 2021.
Other names that round out the top of the class are Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez and Utah’s Clark Phillips III. Both of whom were named to Dane Brugler‘s top draft-eligible cornerbacks.