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Penn State football: Joey Porter Jr.’s NFL Draft snub turns heads

Joey Porter Jr.’s omission from the first round of the NFL Draft left many scratching their heads.

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Penn State football, Brandon Finney, 2025 recruiting
© Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

With a program as storied as Penn State, it’s very rare to be able to label something as a “first.” But that’s what many expected to happen on Thursday night, as Joey Porter Jr. was slated to become the first defensive back in Penn State football history taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. However, when the first round came to an end shortly before midnight, Porter’s name was not called. In a night of unexpected twists, Porter’s omission from the first round was one of the most surprising developments leaving many in the college football world searching for answers.

On-field production wasn’t enough for Joey Porter Jr. to make history for Penn State football

Joey Porter Jr. always graded out as a first-round selection in this year’s NFL Draft. The former four-star prospect in the class of 2019 put together an accomplished career in the Blue and White. Porter earned All-Big Ten honors each season between 2020 and 2022, and was a second-team Associated Press All-American last year. 

In recent weeks, Porter fell slightly from early first-round projections. During the evaluation process, some of the knocks on Porter were similar to frustrations experienced at Penn State. This includes his tendency to be grabby in coverage and a lack of quickness in transitions and directional changes. Some of these issues flared up at the NFL Combine and Penn State’s Pro Day, and his evaluation dipped.

However, Joey Porter Jr. was still always expected to be a first-round pick. But as the first round wore on, it became clear that he wasn’t as high on NFL teams’ big boards. Illinois’s Devon Witherspoon (Seattle Seahawks) and Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez (New England Patriots) were widely expected to be picked before Porter. But many didn’t expect to see Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes go off the board in the mid-first round to the Washington Commanders. And when the New York Giants selected Maryland’s Deonte Banks, it became clear that Porter may not go in the first round at all.

Social media reacts to JPJ’s omission from the first round of the NFL Draft

Now, Penn State football will have to wait at least one more year to finally have a defensive back taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. Across social media, Penn State fans were stunned to not see Joey Porter Jr.’s name called in the first round.

Even as former Penn State quarterback Will Levis, who was expected to be a sure-fire top pick, fell out of the first round, many analysts felt that Porter’s omission was the night’s most significant development.

In addition, several former Penn State football players, including Washington Commanders’ cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields, expressed their frustrations with Porter’s snub.

Others, like Chicago Bears’ safety Jaquan Brisker – who is currently the highest-drafted defensive back in Penn State history – made it clear that they felt Porter will prove many NFL teams wrong.

The NFL Draft resumes with the second round on Friday night starting at 7 p.m – we will see if Porter’s name is finally called.



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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.

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