The Pittsburgh Steelers passed on Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. in the first round. But they didn’t do that again with the very first pick on Day 2.
To open the second round, the Steelers selected Porter at No. 32 overall despite reportedly receiving numerous offers to acquire more draft picks for the selection.
Porter was too good to pass up likely because the Steelers viewed him as a player who can immediately contribute in one of their biggest areas of need. At least that’s the approach Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Teryl Austin took while delivering a message through reporters to the rookie cornerback shortly after the selection.
“We’re hoping he can come in and help us win games this year,” Austin told the media. “No redshirts, none of that stuff.”
Among Steelers fans, Porter was not only a popular choice because he fills a need but also because of his last name. Porter’s father, Joey Porter Sr., played eight years for the Steelers from 1999-2006.
He recorded 60 sacks and helped Pittsburgh win its fifth Super Bowl during the 2005 season.
At Penn State, Porter Jr. recorded 113 total tackles, including 2 tackles for loss with 20 pass defenses. He also had 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery in 34 games.
Steelers Gamble to Wait on Porter Pays Off
Numerous mock drafts throughout the offseason slotted Porter to the Steelers at No. 17 overall. Admittedly, part of the fit was Porter’s father’s legacy in Pittsburgh, but it also made sense from a team need standpoint.
Other than Porter, the next most popular players predicted to land with the Steelers were probably offensive tackles Broderick Jones and Paris Johnson. The former turned into the Steelers first-round pick, as the team decided to wait on Porter.
“Steelers felt that Peezy Jr. had a good chance to be around at 32, to they picked Broderick Jones in first,” The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly wrote on Twitter. “Turns out front office was right.”
With the gamble, the Steelers were able to satisfy their two biggest needs with players that were linked to Pittsburgh in the first round.
Steelers Stay at No. 32 After Receiving Trade Offers
As Kaboly noted on Twitter, the Steelers received trade offers for the No. 32 pick. ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on the network’s broadcast to begin the second night of the draft that as many as eight teams made an offer for the No. 32 selection.
But clearly, the Steelers didn’t find a trade to their liking. Unmoved by the trade offers, general manager Omar Khan hardly settled for a consolation prize in Porter.
In Porter, the Steelers landed one of the top press-man cornerbacks in the 2023 draft class.
“Ascending cornerback combining traits and above average play strength that create a clear definition of who he is as a player,” NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote. “Porter has scheme limitations, but he also has CB1 potential with more work and if utilized properly.”
As Zierlein noted, Porter won’t be as versatile as Cam Sutton, who left Pittsburgh for the Detroit Lions in free agency. But Porter’s ceiling as a No. 1 cornerback should excite Steelers fans.
With Porter, the Steelers drafted a cornerback in the top 32 for just the second time in the last 25 years. That milestone came one night after the Steelers selected an offensive tackle in the first round for the first time since 1996.
Both players have the potential to be bonafide stars for Pittsburgh.