Vikings Linked to Son of NFL Legend in Upcoming Draft

Joey Porter, Steelers

Getty Linebacker Joey Porter of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after winning Super Bowl XL between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks at Ford Field in Detoit, Michigan on February 5, 2006. (Photo by G. N. Lowrance/NFLPhotoLibrary)

The Minnesota Vikings are focused on fixing the defense ahead of next season, which means this year’s NFL Draft will likely the follow a similar path as last year’s.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah went defense with four of the team’s first five picks in 2022, including defensive backs in the first, second and fourth rounds. Even still, the secondary was 31st against the pass last season, while the defense as a unit was also second-to-last in total yards surrendered to opponents.

With the 23rd overall pick in this year’s first round, the Vikings are expected to look again to the defensive backfield. Ian Cummings of Pro Football Network predicted on Sunday, February 5, that Minnesota will select cornerback Joey Porter Jr. out of Penn State University.

“If Joey Porter Jr. is still there, he’s tough to pass up,” Cummings wrote. “Assuming the Vikings will (hopefully) play more press-man with Ed Donatell out the door, Porter projects beautifully into that vision. His elite length, physicality, fluidity combination makes him a master of delaying receiver releases.”

Joey Porter Jr. Would be First-Round Steal For Vikings

Joey Porter Jr.

GettyCornerback Joey Porter Jr. of the Penn State Nittany Lions reacts after a play during a game against the Auburn Tigers at Beaver Stadium on September 18, 2021 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

The question is probably less about whether the Vikings would select Porter Jr. with the 23rd pick than it is will the cornerback even still be on the board at that point?

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Porter as the 14th-best prospect across all positions in this draft class on his latest Big Board and projects the son of legendary Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter Sr. to end up with the same franchise that drafted his father.

“Like father, like son in Pittsburgh?” Kiper wrote on January 25. “The Steelers drafted linebacker Joey Porter in the third round in 1999, and they have a need for his son in 2023. Porter is an aggressive 6-foot-2 corner who was a three-year starter for the Nittany Lions. He picked off just one pass in his career, but he had 11 pass breakups in 2022, so he gets his hands on the football when it’s headed in his direction.”

The Steelers select No. 17 overall, six picks ahead of the Vikings. However, Kiper noted that if the Steelers see value at offensive or defensive tackle when their pick arrives, the team could well pivot in that direction.

Furthermore, while Kiper currently values Porter Jr. as the second-best CB prospect in the draft behind only Devon Witherspoon of Illinois, he acknowledged that NFL Combine testing scores play a big role when it comes to defensive backs and their draft positions. Translation: there is a reasonable chance that a cornerback could leapfrog Porter Jr., or that Porter Jr.’s value could dip slightly. Either case might drop the Penn State prospect just enough that he falls into the Vikings’ lap at No. 23.

Joey Porter Jr. Has All-Pro Pedigree Based on Father’s NFL Career

Joey Porter, Steelers

GettyLinebacker Joey Porter of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates a sack against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field on December 3, 2006 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

If Porter Jr. ends up having a career that proves anything close to the one his father produced, the Vikings will be getting a bargain — and then some.

Porter the elder played 13 years in the NFL, earning trips to four Pro Bowls as well as first-team All-Pro honors once. The linebacker was a second-team All Pro on three other occasions. He also won a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers in 2005-06.

Over the course of his career, Porter Sr. tallied a total of 689 tackles, including 124 tackles for loss, 98 sacks, 49 passes defensed, 25 forced fumbles, 12 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries and three defensive touchdowns.

The linebacker played eight seasons with the Steelers before heading to the Miami Dolphins for a three-year stint and playing out his final two professional campaigns with the Arizona Cardinals. He retired following the 2011 season.

Porter Sr. returned to Pittsburgh three years later as a defensive assistant coach. The Steelers eventually elevated him to linebackers coach, a position he held from 2015-18. Porter Sr. joined Hines Ward, his former Pittsburgh teammate, on the staff of the XFL’s San Antonio Brahmas back in September, per Steelers Depot. Ward is the team’s head coach, while Porter Sr. is the linebackers coach.

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