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Two Steelers Named to 2024 NFL All-Breakout Team

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Pittsburgh Steelers DT Keeanu Benton

After impressive rookie campaigns, both cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and nose tackle Keeanu Benton are expected to take massive leaps for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2024. Many believe they are on the cusp of being elite players in the NFL.

In a recent article, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com named Porter and Benton to his 2024 NFL All-Breakout Team.

“The Steelers are known for identifying and developing worker bees on the defensive front. Benton appears to be the next young DT poised to give opponents fits,” Brook wrote. “The 6-4, 309-pounder held his own as a part-time starter for a unit specializing in bully ball in the trenches. As an energetic defender with a non-stop motor and active hands, Benton outworks and outlasts blockers to win battles on critical downs. Though it is easier to win when playing alongside T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward and Alex Highsmith, Benton’s disruptive talents could help the Steelers get back to playing championship-caliber football.”

Pro Football Focus also named Benton to their All-Breakout Team.

“Benton was inconsistent in run defense last year but still recorded six PFF-run-defense game grades above 70.0. He should be able to improve on that in his second NFL season. He was a useful pass-rusher, too, notching an 8.5% pressure rate,” Gordon McGuinness of PFF wrote.

Mike Tomlin thinks Benton can be dominant sooner rather than later.

“It’s interesting, I just had an exit interview with him,” Tomlin said during his season-ending press conference in January. “I’m really excited about the prospects of his future. He’s really talented. I think he’s capable of being dominant sooner rather than later. And so, the question is how quickly can we make that happen and what are our roles in doing so. And so, we just had a real good conversation about what that looks like foundationally and how do we build.”

Pittsburgh Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr.

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr. at the team’s OTAs, May 21, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Brooks believes Porter “is the next coming” at the cornerback position. He could reach Pro Bowl and All-Pro status this season.

“The second-year pro is a dark-horse contender for Pro Bowl honors in 2024 after thriving as the CB1 in Pittsburgh down the stretch last season,” Brooks wrote. “Porter’s toughness, tenacity and tools make him a difficult matchup for pass catchers who lack the speed and physicality to escape his clutches at the line. Though he remains a work in progress on the island, Porter’s alpha-dog mentality and unshakeable confidence could enable him to shine without a polished game.”

Porter allowed a completion on just 47.4% of his targets in 2023, which was the lowest among all cornerbacks with 50+ targets, according to Pro Football Focus. In addition, Porter only gave up 50+ yards in the air in 2 out of his 17 games during his rookie season.

Porter allowed just one touchdown pass and just 0.76 yards per cover snap in 2023. Travis Etienne’s 56-yard touchdown in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Week 8 win over the Steelers was the only touchdown that Porter allowed, and that came on a busted coverage.