For many Steelers, it was a familiar feeling of disappointment, but for the 2023 rookie class, it was their first taste of the postseason — and losing in the playoffs.
Despite not achieving their ultimate goal, coach Mike Tomlin was pleased with the progress the rookies made in their first season.
You know, I thought we got quality production from them. In many instances, they didn’t wilt, which was good. We were thoughtful about their participation in most instances early on and an effort so that they could be available for us down the stretch. That played out relatively well, to be quite honest with you. I’m excited about the group. Guys in that group, I think they got bright futures ahead of them and excited about being a component of their development.
In particular, second-round cornerback Joey Porter Jr. made quite an impression on Tomlin. He flashed some abilities that should lead to a long career in the NFL if he stays healthy.
I‘m really excited about the trajectory of his career. Probably the most impressive component of where he is, is his mindset. He wants the fight. He wants the tough coverage. He’s extremely competitive in that way. And that’s a great place to build from. He’s got growth obviously ahead of him but that’s real solid.
The Steelers had strong contributions from offensive lineman Broderick Jones and defensive tackle Keeanu Benton, but Porter Jr. was the clear standout from the draft class. If he can be a staple for the Steelers defense in the years to come, Pittsburgh can claim a successful draft class.