Why the Slide?: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

Our “Why the Slide” series parallels and grew out our “Why Undrafted” series. The latter was created a number of years ago in response to your questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For both series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

Joey Porter Jr. was a consensus first-round pick for a lot of the 2023 NFL Draft process. As the son of a NFL great, Porter was a high-profile player immediately for Penn State, where he turned in a solid career. However, Porter began to slide late in the process, and here at WalterFootball.com, we discussed in the Hot Press in the days prior to the 2023 NFL Draft that other corners, like Emmanuel Forbes, had overtaken him with teams. Still, Porter was thought a likely first-rounder, but he ended up slipping beyond the opening night.

Team sources from around the NFL told WalterFootball.com that Porter slid because of scheme limitations. Teams felt that Porter was a press-man corner only, and they did not like his fit playing zone or off-man coverage. That hurt the number of teams whose defensive scheme Porter could fit, leaving the teams that play lot of zone or off-man not interested in Porter. Sources also did not like a lack of big plays during Porter’s college career.

The Pittsburgh Steelers ended Porter’s fall with the opening pick of the second round, meaning he will play for the same franchise as his father. Porter landed with a team that should know how to use him, and he could be developed well by Mike Tomlin and his staff. Porter also has a great veteran to learn from as well with Patrick Peterson coming to Pittsburgh this offseason. While Porter can learn from Peterson, Peterson is not a long-term starter at this point of his career. Porter should challenge for playing time immediately and could be a starter early. If Porter can develop his ability to play off-man and zone, he could turn into a very good pro for Pittsburgh.

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