If the Pittsburgh Steelers decide not to draft Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. with the No. 17 overall pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, one of their arch rivals seems poised to grab him.
The Baltimore Ravens sit five picks behind the Steelers at No. 22, and with Marcus Peters still a free agent, Ravens coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric Decosta are looking for a corner to pair with Pro Bowler Marlon Humphrey.
Porter could fill that need, and the poetic irony of the son of the one of the fiercest Pittsburgh Steelers players ever suiting up in Baltimore purple and black certainly does not seem lost on Harbaugh.
“Seeing Joey Porter Sr. as a Ravens fan, that’d be great for all of us,” Harbaugh said jokingly during his pre-draft press conference with Decosta on Wednesday. Pressed by a Baltimore reporter about whether the elder Porter would actually root for the Ravens, Harbaugh said he though the would.
“Family, first, man,” Harbaugh said. “I’m going to give him a call and find out. I know for me, it’s family first.”
The intrigue is not just about putting the former thorn in the Ravens’ side in an uncomfortable situation. Porter is considered one of the top cornerbacks in the draft class, possessing a rare level of size and physicality at the position.
“Joey Porter Jr. is a heck of a player,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not just him. There’s a lot of good corners, like [Ravens GM Eric Decosta] said, a lot of guy’s we’d be excited about. But this dude knows how to play. I love the way he plays, his style. He’s Joey Porter Sr. in DB form. He’s got a great mentality. So, we’ll see what happens.”
The Ravens, of course, have other needs. They’ve been on a years-long hunt for better wide receivers and might need a quarterback, depending on how things play out with Lamar Jackson, who is looking for a new contract.
The Steelers and Ravens have gone back-and-forth with draft pick preference in the past. The two AFC North rivals have frequently picked near each other in the draft order, and that has made for the teams poaching each others’ targets several times over the years.
Last year, the Steelers snagged Memphis wide receiver Calvin Austin III in the fourth round, one pick ahead of the Ravens, who intended to take him.
In the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Ravens traded up from No. 58 to get ahead of the Steelers at No. 56 when both teams were targeting tight end Maxx Williams.
Would the Steelers take Porter just because they know the Ravens want him five picks later? Probably not. Would the Ravens trade ahead of the Steelers to get him? They’ve done it before, but cornerback probably isn’t their biggest need.
Either way, the potential image of Joey Porter sitting purple-clad in M&T Bank Stadium this fall makes this a situation to monitor, for sure.