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Why Joey Porter Jr. Could Become Steelers’ Next Defensive Stud

Porter could make the leap as early as 2024

Joey Porter Jr. will soon learn what the expectations of a strong rookie season feel like, and everything we’ve come to learn about the 23-year-old cornerback says he’s up for the challenge.

The Steelers obviously believe he is, and they clearly are banking on it.

Porter enters his sophomore season as the undoubted focus of Pittsburgh’s secondary, despite being its youngest member. Steelers general manager Omar Khan designed the unit to complement his young star, adding veterans Donte Jackson, Cameron Sutton and DeShon Elliott to fill the cracks around Porter and Minkah Fitzpatrick. It’s an unsurprising roster-building method, as Porter has quickly shown he has the tools to be a superstar.

He just needs to put it all together.

Porter is a favorite of advanced metrics, having statistically put together the stingiest season a rookie cornerback has ever had — allowing just 24 receptions in 807 total snaps. He led all rookies with a 46.4% completion rate and 67.0 passer rating when targeted in coverage, while tied for the third-highest forced incompletion rate at 18%.

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He also has the length every general manager in football is looking for and certainly has the spunky attitude you’d expect out of a top-flight cornerback. Pittsburgh trusted him to cover the likes of Calvin Ridley and DeAndre Hopkins as a rookie, so you’d be pretty cocky, too.

It’s fairly obvious that he needs to work on a few things. Porter was called for 12 penalties in 2023, which aren’t going to help get rid of the “handsy” and “grabby” labels he earned coming out of Penn State, but at this point in his career, you take the good with the bad. The Steelers will take a couple penalties if it means he’s able to establish physicality with receivers, one of the things he was praised for throughout the draft process.

Pittsburgh clearly trusts the second-generation defender and was given reason to toward the latter half of his rookie season. Porter was targeted only 53 times in 535 coverage snaps, which means quarterbacks weren’t throwing in his direction — despite the fact he covered No. 1 receivers on a weekly basis.

If you think that’ll stop in his sophomore campaign, you’re mistaken.

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The Steelers are going to give Porter every opportunity to develop a superstar reputation, and if his rookie campaign is any indication, that’s all he needs.

Featured image via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images