Entering the 2023 NFL Draft, it was crystal clear the Pittsburgh Steelers needed help at the cornerback position. After losing Cameron Sutton to the Detroit Lions in free agency, the team needed to not just add players, but get younger at the position.
They were able to do so by double-dipping at cornerback. The first of the two picks came in the 2nd Round when the Steelers selected Joey Porter Jr. out of Penn State with pick No. 32. While they didn’t address the position again until the 7th Round, Cory Trice Jr., out of Purdue, checks a lot of boxes the Steelers like in their defensive backs.
Regardless of draft order, the two rookie cornerbacks have come into Pittsburgh not just with a chip on their shoulders, but an understanding they are in this together.
“He is definitely a great guy,” Trice said of Porter. “We just continue learning off of each other. Continue trying to make each other better and perfecting our craft. He is definitely a great guy. We just keep chopping it up off the field and keep trying to make each other better. We’ve been clicking.”
The two corners are almost mirror images of each other in both their size and style. Both standing over 6’3” and playing a physical brand of football.
“We like to press, get hands on,” said Trice. “We like to run with guys and just tackle.”
As stated earlier, both of these players come to the Steelers with something to prove. For Porter, it’s the fact he wasn’t drafted in the first round. For Trice, it’s the amount of time he had to wait before hearing his name called on Day 3 of the draft.
“I definitely got a chip on my shoulder,” said Trice. “I came here ready to prove myself.
“All my life I had to prove myself. It’s just one of those things. I have to prove myself once again and I don’t mind doing it.”
Proving himself isn’t foreign to Trice. He had to switch from safety to cornerback during his time in college, and he knows that need to prove himself isn’t going to stop now.
“I switched to corner, I had to prove myself, establish myself out there,” said Trice. “I came back from an injury in 2021 and had to prove myself. Now I have to prove myself again.”
Getting over the ACL tear in his knee wasn’t easy, but is something he had to put behind him if he was ever going to reach his full potential in the NFL.
“Whenever I had to step back on the field, I had to really put it behind me,” said Trice. “I got on the field, and they don’t care about my injury. I had to just move past it.
“It motivates me to be in the position I am in now, knowing I was injured last year around this time. It’s definitely exciting. It motivates me.”
While it is extremely early in the process, the thought of the Steelers finding two cornerbacks of the future is extremely enticing. The odds of that happening are slim, but the potential is there for both Trice and Porter. They came to the Steelers with a chip on their shoulders, but can they turn that chip, into a championship?
That’s the plan.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the 2023 NFL offseason.