Steelers rumors: Pittsburgh doesn't love Joey Porter Jr. at pick 17

Steelers, Joey Porter Jr.
Steelers, Joey Porter Jr. / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

With the 2023 NFL Draft only hours away, the rumor mill is going to start churning. Now the player most frequently linked to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round is said to no longer be a strong option like most fans and analysts assume.

Recently, ESPN NFL Insider Jeremy Fowler appeared on 93.7 The Fan with Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller. Fowler shared some insight on the Steelers thoughts on Joey Porter Jr., and it's not what most of us expected:

""They [Steelers] just haven't done corner a lot in the first round, so until I see it again, and think this isn't an Artie Burns 2.0, then I just don't know if they would prioritize that... Mike Tomlin has a ton of institutional knowledge on Joey Porter Jr. He is considered more of a mid to late-round prospect, so him at 17 might be a little rich.""

Jeremy Fowler, ESPN (via 93.7 The Fan)

Fowler notes that the Pittsburgh Steelers just haven't valued the cornerback position heavily in the first round. However, by the same logic, they have valued the offensive tackle position even less in the first round. Still, his comment was very interesting.

Fowler believes that Mike Tomlin views Porter as more of a late-first-round prospect. By these words, it sounds like the Steelers would love to have him at pick 32, but not necessarily at 17. However, Porter is expected to be long gone before Pittsburgh is on the clock to open Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Are Steelers still interested in Joey Porter Jr.?

While this shouldn't sway us from viewing Porter as a strong candidate for Pittsburgh at pick 17, it does make you wonder if the team isn't quite as high on him as fans are. The reasons to connect Porter to Pittsburgh are obvious, but they might not be putting as much emphasis on family ties as the media seems to.

Based on their pre-draft visits and Pro Day meetings, however, we do get the sense that the Steelers will go hard after an offensive tackle. On the contrary, Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan were not at the Pro Days of top CBs like Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon, or Joey Porter Jr. (but it's worth noting that there was a scheduling conflict with Penn State's Pro Day as Tomlin and Khan were finishing up at the NFL owners' meeting).

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At the same time, this is a team who spent several of their pre-draft visits bringing in potential cornerbacks like Darius Rush, Tyrique Stevenson, and Julius Brents. If Joey Porter Jr. is still on the board at pick 17 and the Pittsburgh Steelers don't move up, it will be interesting to see if they pass on him in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.