As a franchise, the Pittsburgh Steelers are incredible at multiple things. Whether that’s being competitive in their division, showing up in games where they’ve been counted out, or embodying consistency, there are reasons that the Steelers are tied for the most Super Bowl victories by a franchise in the NFL. However, one aspect they have struggled with is drafting cornerbacks. The Steelers have selected some of the best corners in NFL history, such as Mel Blount or Rod Woodson, but in the past 15 or so years, it’s been a serious blind spot for them. However, they may have broken that curse last year with the selection of Joey Porter Jr.

Porter was drafted by the Steelers at the top of the second round in the 2023 draft, already connected to the team through his father, longtime Steelers’ linebacker Joey Porter. Porter had some issues with being slightly grabby coming out of Penn State, and while he didn’t totally eliminate that concern in his rookie year, he still played outstanding. Bucky Brooks, a former NFL corner and current analyst, highlighted Porter as a rising star on the most recent episode of his podcast, Move The Sticks.

”I think he’s the next coming. He’s the next guy that we’re going to talk about being a premiere cornerback in this league,” Brooks said to his co-host, Daniel Jeremiah. “Early on in the season, he got those No. 1 duties, and he didn’t shy away from the responsibility of being the No. 1 corner on that team. I love his length. I love his feistiness. And to me, he’s a much better player as a pro than he was as a prospect in college. And that is rare.”

Brooks seems to believe that Porter will be the next young corner to ascend to superstardom, following in the footsteps of players like Sauce Gardner and Patrick Surtain II. The two strengths of Porter that Brooks highlighted, his length and attitude, are two of his top strengths. He stands over 6’2’’ and has 34-inch arms that hang like vines from a tree. While being built like a video game character is great, it’s Porter’s attitude that he inherited from his father that truly makes him who he is, never backing down from a challenger and seeking out the best receiver to shut them down.

Brooks also had a theory for why Porter looks so strong on the field, pointing to the aura of the Steelers as maybe a reason why he plays so well.

”Maybe it’s the uniforms. But he has a toughness and grittiness that suits what he’s being asked to do in Pittsburgh.”

Considering Porter probably envisioned himself in that Steelers’ uniform after his father dominated in it for years, it makes sense that he’d fit it like a glove. Porters in Pittsburgh just tend to have a little edge to them that makes them stand out. Porter Sr. carried such a fiery spirit that helped ignite the Steelers to a Super Bowl win in 2005. Perhaps Porter Jr. can do similar things in the years to come.

While he still has some issues in his play style, such as limiting penalties and becoming a more sound tackler, Porter has all the tools to become a top corner in the NFL. His combination of size and speed isn’t often seen, and he proved that he can be trusted against a team’s best receiver in single coverage. Development isn’t linear in the NFL, but Porter should continue to improve in his second year, and if that’s the case, the Steelers’ defense may take another leap. They have franchise cornerstones at linebacker, defensive line, and safety, so if Porter can become the player Brooks sees him as, then the league may be in store for another all-time great Steelers defense.


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