Joey Porter Jr. doesn’t lack confidence.
That’s for good reason. After rarely being targeted by opposing quarterbacks last season, the former Penn State star enters the 2023 NFL draft as one of the top prospects in a loaded class at the position.
Porter Jr. checks all the boxes defensive coordinators covet in starting corners; he’s 6-foot-2 with 34-inch arms and tips the scales at 193 pounds.
During a stellar 2022 campaign as one of the more dominant defenders on a loaded Penn State defense, Porter Jr. was only targeted 30 times, while allowing just 15 receptions for 143 yards and breaking up 11 passes. Pro Football Focus credits Porter Jr. with a 77.4 coverage grade.
Ahead of the draft getting underway, Porter is viewed by many inside the league as having the potential to be a premier press corner in the NFL. That viewpoint is underscored by quarterbacks producing a meager 63.6 passer rating when targeting him.
Yet, according to multiple NFL executives, some teams fear that Porter Jr. can’t play off, a claim the son of Pittsburgh Steelers legend Joey Porter adamantly pushes back against.
“I guess [the executives] didn’t watch my film,” Porter Jr. said, during a recent appearance on Heavy Sports’ The Matt Lombardo Show, on behalf of the Call of Duty suite at the NFL draft. “Because before last season, for two years prior, I had Brent Pry (as defensive coordinator) and we weren’t really a press team, we played a lot of off (coverage).”
Porter Jr. has had the advantage, playing in the loaded Big Ten East division, of going up against some of the top young receivers to emerge in the NFL the past several years, and points to some of those matchups as a reason he can be a complete player at the next level.
“I played off against two of the great people to come out of Ohio State,” Porter Jr. explained. “Like, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. I held my own, and I feel like I won those matchups, playing off and playing press. So, I feel like I’m an overall corner, who can do it all.”
During Penn State’s 2021 loss to Ohio State, Olave was held to just 3 catches for 44 yards, during a performance Porter Jr. produced 2 tackles in.
Porter Jr.’s traits and tape show a player capable of excelling in a man-press system, and the chance to develop a reputation at the next level of being a ballhawk.
Which Cornerbacks Does Joey Porter Jr. Look Up To?
Any star cornerback has to have some bravado, and a short memory, especially when going up against some of the elite game’s elite wide receivers.
While Porter Jr. has the luxury of drawing off decades of knowledge and conversations with his father, the 22-year-old says there are several cornerbacks currently in the NFL who he’s grown up watching and patterned his game after.
“There were a lot of guys who came through the NFL that I modeled my game after,” Porter Jr. said. “Deion Sanders, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Jalen Ramsey as of late.”
Depending on how the board shakes out during the first round of the 2023 NFL draft, where Porter Jr. is expected to be a top-15 selection, he could wind up playing opposite Peterson, with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
To Porter Jr., there was one trait that all of his role models shared. Confidence.
“They all have that confidence and that swagger about themselves,” Porter Jr. explained. “To go on the field and do what they do. Especially with the position we play, we need that.”