Joey Porter Jr. has a picture-perfect Steelers debut vs Bills

Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers / Justin Berl/GettyImages

I don't think many football fans expected Joey Porter Jr. to fall to the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Throughout the pre-draft process, the Penn State cornerback was on the Pittsburgh Steelers radar in the first round. Thanks to his unexpected slide, Omar Khan was still able to snag him with the 32nd overall pick acquired in the Chase Claypool trade.

Early in Steelers training camp, Porter certainly looked the part with his length, toughness, and speed to stick with receivers down the field. Watching him first-hand in Latrobe this year, Porter has sticky man coverage and the length to routinely re-direct receivers. This carried over into the preseason.

After missing the first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to a minor injury, Porter was active and ready to go against Buffalo in Week 2 of the preseason. The rookie cornerback made his debut early in the game, and it was all uphill from there.

In his very first action, Porter nearly got his hand on a quick slant to former All-Pro receiver, Stefon Diggs. The Bills receiver was still able to reel in the pass, but it was well-contested. Buffalo wouldn't be so fortunate the next time they tried targeting JPJ.

In the second quarter, Porter had a picture-perfect play in coverage. He used his length to ride the receiver to the sideline, flipped his head around, and located the football for his first NFL interception.

After earning just one interception in five seasons at Penn State, per Sports Reference, this was the exact boost of confidence Porter needed in his playmaking ability. There's no question that Porter can be a great cornerback when it comes to press and man coverage, but his ball skills have always been in question. His hard work and dedication to improvement helped him get to this point.

Joey Porter Jr. is off to a great start for the Steelers

During Steelers training camp, Porter worked on his hands both on the jugs machine and with an individual coach nearly every day before or after practice. This helped him earn four interceptions throughout the duration of training camp during team sessions.

Now it looks like that hard work is already starting to pay dividends. While Porter has drawn plenty of Ike Taylor comparisons so far, it's nice to see that he doesn't have a pair of rocks for hands. Obviously, Porter is going to drop some picks during his NFL career, but we certainly hope that this is a step in the right direction.

In terms of what we were looking for, Porter had as good of a rookie debut as any Steelers fan could have expected. Fans have to be encouraged by what they saw from the young cornerback against the Buffalo Bills.

This could be a sign of good things to come for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it's already looking like they might have struck gold on their 2023 draft class. Porter joins other young players like Nick Herbig, Calvin Austin, and Keeanu Benton who have been thoroughly impressive during the preseason. The future is looking bright.