Connect with us


Former Penn State star Joey Porter Jr. making case to be NFL’s top rookie defender

Former Penn State star CB Joey Porter Jr. is making a strong case to be this year’s NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.



Penn State football, Joey Porter Jr., NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rookie of the Year
Oct 8, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (24) celebrates his interception in the end zone with linebacker T.J. Watt (90) and linebacker Alex Highsmith (56) against the Baltimore Ravens during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State football has a long history of developing solid NFL players. The Nittany Lions program had six players drafted at the 2023 NFL Draft alone. CB Joey Porter Jr. was the first Nittany Lion to come off the board in the 2023 NFL Draft, going with the first pick of the second round to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although falling out of the first round, Pittsburgh seemed like the perfect spot for Porter Jr., with his father rising to fame and earning a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Steelers. Now midway through his first year, the former Penn State football star is making a name for himself in the black and gold, and has a strong case to earn NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors this season.

Former Penn State football star is dominating for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Joey Porter Jr. has been an extremely exciting addition to the Pittsburgh Steelers defense this season. Porter Jr. has now worked his way into the starting lineup, and has shined when opportunity has come his way.

Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, along with head coach Mike Tomlin, opted to ease Porter Jr. into a big role by sprinkling him in here and there early in the season. Porter Jr. did not make his first official start until Pittsburgh’s Week 8 tilt with the Jacksonville Jaguars. But the former Penn State football star has been making plays long before his first start though.

Porter Jr. is top 5 in almost every stat among NFL CBs who have played at least 230 snaps. He has allowed a staggering 48.1 passer rating and has only allowed 136 passing yards all season.

Perhaps the biggest play Porter Jr. has made for the Steelers so far is a game-sealing interception in a rivalry matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. Although he was not really known for interceptions while at Penn State, it’s great to see Joey Porter Jr. starting to excel here in the NFL.

Joey Porter Jr. is making a case for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year

Every highly drafted NFL rookie at a skill position has aspirations to gain Rookie of the Year honors. But on the defensive side of the ball, it can be challenging for CBs. Covering NFL WRs is no easy task, even for seasoned veterans.

Luckily, Joey Porter Jr. has a well-known veteran to help him learn and develop his game. Future Hall of Fame CB Patrick Peterson is Porter Jr.’s Steelers teammate. Having a guy like that in his corner has already been paying dividends. Porter Jr. continues to shine on a weekly basis, keeping passer ratings very low when he is tested.

If this current pace continues, Porter Jr. will surely be in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation come season’s end. Of course, Penn State football fans don’t have to look far to find the last time a former Nittany Lion earned this honor. Former Penn State star LB Micah Parsons was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after his phenomenal 2021 season with the Dallas Cowboys.

There’s plenty of opportunities left for Penn State football fans interested in keeping tabs on the rest of the Porter Jr.’s 2023 campaign. Pittsburgh will travel to rival Cleveland Sunday for a highly-anticipated AFC North division matchup. Both the Steelers and the Browns boast 6-3 season records and are in the thick of the playoff hunt. This huge test for Joey Porter Jr. and the Steelers will air at 1:00 p.m. on CBS.

Thank you for reading Basic Blues Nation. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and insights on your favorite Penn State athletics. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email us at [email protected] or direct message us on our social media. Also, be sure to check out our new site shop. It’s due to your support that we can become one of the market’s fastest-growing Penn State sports outlets!

Mark is a proud graduate of Penn State's Class of 2019 and is a massive fan of Penn State athletics. Born and raised in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Mark is also a huge Pittsburgh sports fan and a self-proclaimed 'yinzer.' Mark is new to sports writing and cannot wait to connect with Nittany Nation in a way he never has before.