If Joey Porter Jr. ends up playing for the Ravens, his father will have to embrace the twist of fate.
Porter Jr. is one of the top cornerback prospects in the draft and plans to carry on his father's NFL legacy. His father, Joey Porter Sr., spent 13 seasons in the league as a standout linebacker primarily with the Ravens' archrival, the Pittsburgh Steelers (1999-2006). Porter Sr. spent many gamedays talking smack with Ravens, as he is one of the players that most symbolizes the height of the rivalry's animosity.
If the Ravens call Porter's name on draft night, it won't cause a family rift. Porter would embrace coming to Baltimore, where he would be reunited with outside linebacker Odafe Oweh and punter Jordan Stout, college teammates at Penn State.
"I really never had ill will to Baltimore," Porter said Thursday at the NFL Combine. "That's more my dad and his whole rivalry with them. I just love the game of football. If I end up there, that would be a blessing."
While Porter's father is excited about his son's prospects, he doesn't mince words when it comes to evaluating his game. When Porter was thinking about entering the NFL draft in 2022, his father told him he wasn't ready.
That stung Porter a little bit, but the talented cornerback from Penn State trusted his father's experience. The older Porter looked at his son 12 months ago and saw a cornerback with impressive talent who needed more polish to cover the NFL's top receivers. Porter's advice was to stay at Penn State one more season, get better, and solidify a place as one of the best cornerbacks in the 2023 draft class.
That's exactly what Porter Jr. did, and now he's a projected first-round pick who could be a Ravens target at No. 22 – if the Steelers don't take him at No. 17 first. When the cornerbacks work out in front of NFL scouts, coaches and front office personnel on Friday, Porter plans to shine for every team, not just those he grew up rooting for or against.
"I would say I'm a physical press corner that's going to get in your face, do my job and do it well," Porter said. "I feel like I'm the best corner here. I'm just here to really show my talents and prove why.
"People don't think I'm that fast. I'm here to show people I can really fly."
Ravens Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz is high on Porter's skillset.
"Joey is a long, athletic corner, very good ball skills, really good feel and instincts for the position," Hortiz said. "He plays zone and man, you'll see him press, play off. Tough to throw over and around because of his length. You also see the competitiveness in him as you would expect being Joey Porter's son. He'll come up and support the run."
Porter handled the Combine media session with ease, smiling as he answered questions and showing no sign of nerves. While he brings an aggressive nature to the field, Porter said his off-field personality is more like similar to his mother, Christy.
"She's more laidback, poised," Porter said. "She likes to smile a lot."
Perhaps the biggest criticism of Porter is his lack of interceptions, after registering just one pick in college. However, some teams would afraid to challenge Porter when he became a star cornerback last season. In the NFL, Porter believes having to prove his worth will lead to more opportunities to force turnovers.
"Just make more plays on the ball. I feel like I left some money out there on the field this year," he said. "I'm going to work on that so I can make more plays. I didn't get targeted a lot, especially in the back end of the season. It was a respect thing so I had to keep my composure."
Porter has been mocked to the Ravens fairly consistently for weeks, but so have other corners like Brian Branch of Maryland, Kelee Ringo of Georgia and Cam Smith of South Carolina. But playing in the NFL is in the Porter family's blood. Joey Porter Sr., now a linebackers coach with the San Antonio Brahmas in the XFL, was a four-time Pro Bowler who also won a Super Bowl.
That's a tough career for his son to top, but he plans to.
"My family has really motivated me from a legacy standpoint," Porter said. "My dad's been there before, he's done it. I want to get there, be better. He always told me he wants me to be better than him. That's what I'm going to try to do. That's why I'm here."