Joey Porter Jr. has the pedigree, family relation, and visible talent on the field. But how do these elements come together to complete Porter’s 2023 NFL Draft scouting report? Let’s take a look at the tape and find out.
Joey Porter Jr. NFL draft profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: Penn State
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’2″, 198 pounds
If you’re asking, the answer is yes — Porter Jr. is the son of Joey Porter, the former NFL linebacker who played from 1999 to 2011, earning four Pro Bowl berths and one All-Pro selection with the Steelers and Dolphins.
The elder Porter was a menace in the NFL at his peak, and he accrued 98 sacks over the course of his illustrious career. The younger Porter has a chance to be similarly productive, but not on the ground — in the air.
Porter Jr. plays cornerback for the Penn State Nittany Lions. It’s a position he was recruited heavily at as a four-star prospect in 2019, and it’s a position he’s found success at in recent years. 2021 was Porter’s most productive season yet. The Penn State CB amassed 50 tackles, an interception, and four pass deflections, earning third-team All-Big Ten honors.
Likely to enter the draft pool after this year, Porter will have tense competition in the 2023 NFL Draft CB class. But if he can take the next step, he has the tools to potentially challenge for a top spot.
Joey Porter Jr. scouting report
In a strong positional group, it can be easy for quality prospects to get drowned out. But Porter has the traits to potentially stand above. Where does he stand in the 2023 NFL Draft?
As is the case with most Penn State prospects, Porter passes the eye test. He has a long, lean frame with excellent length. With his length, he can make receivers very uncomfortable in contact situations, as well as contend with tight ends in space.
Porter has a very complete athletic profile for his size, but his brand of mobility is especially appealing at his size. Porter has excellent reactive athleticism. He can quickly exit his stance and open up his strides with little delay when responding to breaks. He’s also able to quickly throttle up and down in response to routes, and he rarely careens out of control.
Porter is an extremely adaptable athlete who can stack quick direction changes and speed up his footwork to recover positioning. To that end, he has the twitch to suddenly snap out of his backpedal, sink, and explode toward breaks. The Penn State CB flashes impressive corrective twitch when adjusting positioning in fast-moving situations. And he’s shown he can quickly chop his feet, sink, and decelerate to blanket WRs on comebacks.
In a similar vein, Porter has exceptional fluidity for his size as well. The Nittany Lions defender can flip around and run with receivers upfield, carrying acceleration through transitions. He also has the flexibility to quickly swivel back and forth when matching WR leverage off the line, and he’s shown he can maintain balance while doing so.
Cornerbacks with Porter’s length don’t usually have the kind of reactive athleticism and fluidity that he does. But on top of that, he brings visible explosiveness and speed. The Penn State CB flashes great initial explosive capacity out of his stance. He can surge downhill and clamp down on quick outs, and he accelerates in an instant when turning and running with receivers upfield.
Porter can hit an impressive second gear downfield when tracking and chasing the ball, and he has the long-strider speed and burst to build momentum heading into contact. His speed also shows up in run support, where Porter has enough range to seal off outside runs as a contain defender. He can also run down players from behind in pursuit.
The complete athletic skill set grants Porter a great foundation, and he also does a great job maximizing it with his physical mindset. Porter gets chippy with WRs after wins and consistently makes his presence felt. He’s more than willing to carry his momentum into contact and jar receivers at the catch point with his frame. He can also proactively use his length to jam WRs against the sideline as a boundary defender, and his length carries great force on jams. It can be a displacing agent for WRs.
While Porter’s technique can improve, there are some promising building blocks in that department. Porter can effectively square up receivers at stems in zone coverage and consistently transitions with his feet first before jamming. He’s shown he can be patient and disciplined on releases, waiting until WRs commit upfield to turn and jam. Additionally, Porter’s able to gather WRs with two-hand jams, then flip and stick to the hip pocket with his athleticism.
When projecting Porter’s future development, it’s easy to see his mental acuity as a defender. Mentally, he flashes very quick response to stimulus and processing speed when matching WR movements off the line. Porter can quickly process bench concepts and hawk on quick outs with voracity. Meanwhile, on the ground, Porter has shown he can quickly process designed screens and surge downhill.
One of Porter’s most exciting traits might be his playmaking ability at the catch point. The Penn State CB has excellent body control, timing, and coordination when the ball comes his way. Impressively, he can work against his momentum, contort, and extend to deflect passes in rapid succession. His freedom of motion in his torso, combined with his overwhelming length and coordination, grants high-level disruption potential. And as a bonus, he’s consistently physical and competitive at the catch point.
Finally, Porter brings added utility in run support. Porter can trigger quickly on designed screens, and he’s able to shade past blockers with torso flexibility and clog lanes upfield with length. He’ll actively fight opposing anchors with his length and fully extend into blocks. Going further, Porter can use his burst and length to close in on RBs, square up, and envelop them as a tackler. He can lead with the shoulder and wrap up, and his length makes him hard to overtake at the boundary.
The completing piece for Porter is his hustle and awareness. He consistently brings good energy, and he’s shown he can fight for possession and capitalize on turnover opportunities like forced fumbles.
Areas for improvement
While Porter is an exceptional athlete overall, there are a few notes that keep him from reaching the quantifiably elite range. Porter doesn’t quite bring elite closing speed and burst when closing gaps downfield, and he also doesn’t carry elite burst out of transitions when breaking on passes.
Expanding on his athletic caveats, Porter doesn’t always have great foot speed or balance when managing space. At times, he can be lopsided and uncontrolled when positioning on his backpedal. Additionally, his 180-degree transitions aren’t always fast or smooth. He has great fluidity, but naturally, with his size, he’s not always flexible enough to turn on a dime. He sometimes needs to take steps to gather himself before decelerating and diverting course in space.
Switching to the operational realm, Porter’s technique does need further refinement. The Penn State CB can occasionally be flat-footed in his stance, delaying his response to stimulus at the line. He often plays too tall in his stance and can be more compressed and controlled with technique. When he’s too tall in his stance, Porter can struggle to sink his hips and transition back toward the ball. In a similar vein, Porter sometimes struggles to decelerate quickly when tracking WRs at top speed.
The Penn State CB sometimes crosses his feet when pedaling back, which can impact his balance if he has to adapt suddenly. He’ll also occasionally flip outside too early in press-bail, giving away inside leverage. Meanwhile, at the line, he can be more efficient loading and shooting his hands on jams in press coverage. While his proactive physicality is desirable, Porter’s arms can be a bit winding, and his placement can be too high.
Elsewhere, Porter sometimes lacks urgency when tracking WRs upfield. On occasion, he can be late to flip upfield and accelerate as WRs approach, and his play recognition can be late when surveying misdirections. When playing the ball down the field, he sometimes looks back too early, allowing WRs to exploit and manipulate his blind spot.
Lastly, Porter can still seek greater efficiency as a playmaker in the air and on the ground. At times, he can make a better effort to precisely target the ball with his hands at the catch point, as he sometimes defers to merely making contact.
In run support, Porter sometimes overpursues angles coming downhill and sometimes turns his back to blockers in open space trying to sneak around, losing leverage by extension. He can be more controlled attacking blocks at times, and in short-yardage situations, he needs to trigger on plays with more speed as a contain defender. He sometimes hesitates and gives up crucial plays.
Current draft projection for Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr.
It’s easy to think that Porter’s stock is inflated with his pedigree at Penn State and his NFL bloodline. But looking at the tape, Porter passes the eye test. He grades out as an early-round prospect with his combination of physical tools and playmaking potential, and it’s not brash to say he could crack Round 1 — if he can fix some notable technical flaws.
While Porter isn’t an elite athlete in terms of explosiveness, he does bring a very enticing mix of reactive athleticism, corrective twitch, and fluidity for a 6’2″ cornerback with near-elite length. On top of that, he’s constantly physical in contact situations and showcases high-level instincts and ball skills when quarterbacks challenge him.
Ahead of anything else, Porter needs to play lower in his stance and be more consistent with his off-man technique. He’s shown he can speed up his feet when matching, but his foot speed can be inconsistent. And when he doesn’t effectively sink his hips on his backpedal and on transitions, that can throw a wrench in his process.
While these flaws are notable, Porter is a young and naturally talented defender with the mindset needed to compete at CB. He should spend most of his time on the boundary, but he’s shown he can slide into the slot as well if needed. A lot depends on his technical development, but at his maximum, Porter can be a quality NFL starter with dual-phase playmaking upside and versatility between man and zone alignments.