Steelers’ Joey Porter Jr calls himself best cornerback in NFL after rookie season

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Before he heads into his second season in the NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr. made a bold statement at OTAs. 

The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly asked Porter who the best cornerback in the league was, and his answer showed how confident he is in his own abilities. 

“Me, for sure,” Porter said last week. 

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Joey Porter Jr. awaits snap

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joey Porter, Jr., #24, covers a receiver during the Pittsburgh Steelers versus Baltimore Ravens NFL game at M&T Bank Stadium on Jan. 6, 2024 in Baltimore. (Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The 23-year-old, who was drafted in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft by Pittsburgh, did have a good rookie campaign. 

Porter made 11 starts out of the 17 games he played for the Steelers, totaling 10 passes defended and one interception with 43 combined tackles. He finished fifth in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting for his efforts on a tough Steelers’ defense that played a major role in them earning a playoff spot last season. 

Looking further into his stats, when Porter was targeted last season, quarterbacks only found their receivers catching the ball 30 times on 63 targets (47.6%). Porter was also credited with allowing just one touchdown last season by Pro Football Reference as well. 

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While Porter showed exactly why he was a first round pick out of Penn State, there are likely other cornerbacks in the NFL who would say they are the ones looking down on the rest.

Porter himself made sure to mention the likes of Sauce Gardner, the New York Jets young star, Denver Broncos’ Patrick Surtain II, Green Bay Packers’ Jaire Alexander and Cleveland Browns’ Denzel Ward, among others. 

However, he feels his assignments, since he took over the starting role in Week 7, make him the cream of the crop. 

“There are a lot of good DBs in this league,” Porter explained. “Nobody was doing what I was doing, going against WR1s the entire year and locking (them) down. I don’t care if I am mentioned (among the top cornerbacks) or not because they are going to hear my name eventually.”

Joey Porter Jr. salutes crowd

Joey Porter Jr., #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers, in action against the New England Patriots on Dec. 7, 2023 at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Gardner has made his case over the last two seasons as one of the best cover corners in the NFL. Pro Football Focus (PFF) has him with the second-best coverage grade (90.8), while ranking first in preventing separation, showing his ability to mirror receiver’s routes. 

However, the best coverage grade went to Chicago Bears standout Jaylon Johnson, who just cashed in with an extension this offseason. 

Porter finished 20th in PFF’s rankings, as Darious Williams (Jacksonville Jaguars), Kendall Fuller (Washington Commanders) and Derek Stingley Jr. (Houston Texans) rounded out the top five. 

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Confidence is key for every NFL position, but cornerbacks need to believe in their skills, especially when they are matched with top passing options like Porter was. Additionally, it is also in Porter’s blood to believe in himself, as his father, Joey Porter Sr., did the exact same with the Steelers during his playing days. He usually talked about it, too. 

“I always try to keep my confidence up, my swagger up,” Porter Jr. said. “”Coming into the building, I always felt that I was that guy. You have to work to get that respect, but I think everybody understands what I can bring to the table.

“I am always going to pick me over anybody else.”

Porter likely knows that his comment will make some waves around the league, but his performance will be louder than his words. 

Joey Porter Jr. looks on field

Joey Porter Jr., #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers, looks on during the game against the New England Patriots at Acrisure Stadium on Dec. 7, 2023 in Pittsburgh. (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

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Porter will only become more seasoned as head coach Mike Tomlin keeps giving him top-receiver assignments moving forward.  

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