The following article is based on the opinions of external draft analysts.
We're heading into the fourth season of the Ron Rivera era, and the Washington Commanders have a pristine opportunity to strengthen their roster.
In his first season as Washington's head coach, Rivera took Chase Young, who became the 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year, with the No. 2 overall pick. The next season, he drafted Jamin Davis with the No. 19 overall pick, and the former Kentucky Wildcat showed promise in his first season. And last year, the Commanders took Jahan Dotson, who wasted no time in becoming a valuable member of the Commanders' receiving corps.
Now, the Commanders have the No. 16 overall pick, and analysts are predicting them to go with a plethora of positions, from offensive line to cornerback and linebacker, at that spot.
In anticipation for that selection, Commanders.com will highlight one mock draft from a draft expert each week and delve into how that player would fit with Washington. Here are the players we have covered so far:
Next, we're moving to the Big Ten and highlighting one of the most talented cornerbacks in the draft.
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Joey Porter Jr. is just two months away from taking the next step in his playing career, and he has a good tutor to give him a foundation for what to expect at the professional level.
Porter's father, Joey Porter, Sr., was a third-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1999 and had a successful career that spanned 13 seasons with the Steelers, Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals. During that time, Porter, Sr. collected four Pro Bowls and All-Pro selections, including a First Team honor in 2002.
Who knows at this point if Porter Jr. will have the same lengthy career as his father, but draft analysts believe he is going to positively impact any defense that drafts him. In one of his recent mock drafts, USA Today’s Nate Davis has Porter falling to the Commanders, who do need to shore up their depth at the cornerback position.
"The son of the former Steelers linebacking star of the same name, Porter Jr. is a big (6-2, 194) corner who could plug in nicely for a team that could use quality depth beyond what Kendall Fuller provides," Davis wrote.
Davis has Porter as the second cornerback taken off the board in his Feb. 20 mock draft, and he is not alone in holding the Nittany Lion defensive back in such high regard. CBS Sports has him ranked as the fourth best cornerback prospect, while ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has him as the 14th overall prospect on his big board.
That is partly because Porter is such a unique specimen for his position. Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing 200 pounds, Porter used his size to set a career high in pass breakups (8). Most of that came against Purdue, when he set a school record for pass breakups with six in a single game. Porter wrapped up his college career with First Team All-Big Ten and Second Team All-American honors from multiple national outlets.
NFL.com's Lance Zierlein believes that Porter has strong hand usage and the length to "sway away would-be catches underneath," according to the analyst’s draft profile of Porter. That much is clear watching him match up against some of college football's best receivers. Last year, he had snaps against eventual first-round picks Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, and both wideouts had problems against him.
And if there are any other doubts about Porters' ability in coverage, Pro Football Focus noted in January that 275 coverage snaps in 2022 and did not allow a single touchdown.
"Joey Porter Jr. is the press corner teams want in the class," said PFF's Mike Renner. "He attacks receivers at the line of scrimmage the same way his father attacked offensive lines."
Porter is not a perfect prospect. He does tend to tug on receivers' jerseys. His footwork at the line of scrimmage also needs some work, as his extra steps can lead to more talented wideouts getting open. Those are weaknesses that NFL receivers are going to pounce on, especially as Porter tries to get up to speed as a rookie.
But Porter has the athletic intangibles to make up for those areas of improvement. Some outlets believe that Porter will run in the 4.3 range for his 40-yard dash. What's more, Porter does do a good job of limiting receivers once they have the ball in their hands. PFF notes that he allowed just 51 yards after the catch.
That ability to limit explosive plays is something Washington could certainly use.
"Porter has scheme limitations, but he also has CB1 potential with more work and if utilized properly," Zierlein wrote.