The team with the first pick of the second round in the NFL Draft traditionally holds a valuable piece of draft capital. That was no different in 2023.
The Pittsburgh Steelers held the selection, and it was clear heading into the draft that the team was willing to listen to offers on the pick. While they did listen, they stood pat and selected Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. with the No. 32 selection. In a post-draft press conference with head coach Mike Tomlin, Steelers general manager Omar Khan confirmed that the team fielded offers but that the value in taking Porter was ultimately too good to pass up.
“We listened. There were definitely opportunities there. After we evaluated everything we just felt really good about the opportunity to take Joey Porter Jr,” Khan said via video posted to the team’s YouTube channel.
Khan confirmed that the team had Porter Jr. higher on its board than where they selected him.
“You go through different scenarios and mocks, and we had him graded obviously higher than that, and we expected him to go higher than that,” Khan said. “But we consider ourselves very fortunate to have had the opportunity to pick him at No. 32.”
It was widely expected that Porter Jr. would be a first-round pick; there was even talk that he would be gone prior to the No. 17 overall pick, which the Steelers originally held. Instead, in a deep cornerback draft class, Porter Jr. slid and the Steelers were able to select him at the top of the second round.
The Steelers did make two draft day trades, trading the No. 17 selection and No. 120 selection to the New England Patriots for the No. 14 selection. They also traded back in the third round, moving off the No. 80 pick and picking up the No. 93 and No. 132 picks from the Carolina Panthers. They used those selections to take Georgia tight end Darnell Washington and Wisconsin linebacker Nick Herbig.
Porter Jr. at No. 32 was tremendous value for the Steelers, and he now joins a cornerback room where he will be mentored by veteran Patrick Peterson. While Porter Jr. has a tendency to be too grabby, he has absurd length and athleticism, and his ceiling made him a very worthy selection at No. 32. After the first round of the draft ended on Thursday, I’m sure there was a lot of excitement in the Steelers’ draft room that Porter Jr. was somehow still available.
It’s always good when you can get a guy many thought you would take with your first-round pick in the second round. That’s what happened with the Steelers and Porter Jr. Hopefully he can live up to the hype and develop into a solid NFL cornerback.