If a cornerback comes out of nowhere and lights the world on fire during their rookie season, there is a good chance that guy will become one of the more feared cornerbacks for years. That has already happened in New York as Sauce Gardner is playing like one of the NFL’s best, but after a long time since the Steelers have organically drafted a top cornerback, it looks like they may have one in Joey Porter Jr.
Porter’s biggest flaw is his grabbiness, as referees have nailed him for twelve penalties throughout the season. But the rest of his game is coming along nicely. With his length and size, Porter has become one of the NFL’s better cover corners on the outside. According to Next Gen Stats, Porter ranks second in the NFL in yards per coverage snap allowed at just 0.8. He is ninth in the NFL in total EPA allowed when targeted, too.
It’s not hard to see where Joey Porter Jr. is making his due here. Even when those players, like Tee Higgins, go off for over 100 yards, he gets shut down when Porter is in proximity. Higgins did most of his work away from Porter, who covered him on 32 of his 40 routes. He caught just one reception for 15 yards whenever he got targeted against Porter.
Porter’s length and grabbiness make him a frustrating player at times. He got called for the thirteenth penalty on Saturday, a holding call near the top of the league. But Porter’s length and aggressiveness are what makes him great. Honestly, you live with the penalties to bring out the dog in him that makes him fit for these types of matchups.
“I am not going to let that alter my game,” Porter said. “I know what I got going on, and I feel like I am doing a good job. Once you start second-guessing your ability, you start playing bad. And I am not going to let that happen. So if I get a flag, it’s like, ‘Whatever, next play,’ and I am going to keep on working.”
With his improving tackling, Porter is making his game well-rounded as a rookie. If he can improve his technique in press coverage by getting rid of that grabbiness, Porter could take the leap into the stratosphere of elite cornerbacks.