OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh smiled earlier this month when talking about the possibility of drafting Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr.
“Seeing Joey Porter Sr. a Ravens fan?,” Harbaugh said, alluding to the ex-Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker. “I think that would be great for all of us.”
After Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta questioned whether Joey Porter Sr. would root for Baltimore, Harbaugh quickly replied, “Of course he would. Family first, man. I’m going to give him a call and I’m going to find out.”
While it’s uncertain whether Baltimore could switch Joey Porter Sr.’s allegiance, there is no question the Ravens’ most glaring need is cornerback, because the team hasn’t re-signed Marcus Peters.
With the No. 22 overall pick, the Ravens could fill that void in a couple of interesting ways by either selecting someone like Porter with all of his Terrible Towel roots or going with Maryland’s Deonte Banks, a Baltimore native who played high school football 29 miles from M&T Bank Stadium. So, the Ravens could end up lining up the son of a former rival or a hometown star alongside Marlon Humphrey in their secondary.
"We love corners; our defense is really built to succeed with a great, strong secondary,” DeCosta said. "We think it's one of the most important positions on your football team, and it's a position that we'll always look at very closely.”
The consensus top two cornerbacks in this year’s draft -- Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon and Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez -- are projected to go in the top 10. The rest of the top five corners -- Porter, Banks and Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes -- should get selected between picks No. 15 and No. 25.
According to ESPN Analytics, here are the chances of these cornerbacks being available at No. 22: Porter 5%, Banks 68% and Forbes 90%.
“I think there is a difference (after) the first two guys,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said, "but it’s not a massive gap.”
Porter, a 2022 first-team All-Big Ten selection, steadily improved in coverage after becoming a starter in 2020. He is known for his great ball-hawking skills, recording a pass breakup on 38% of his targets last season -- which led the FBS.
“This dude knows how to play,” Harbaugh said. “He’s the Joey Porter Sr. version in DB form.”
Banks, a 2022 All-Big Ten honorable mention selection, allowed only 20 completions when targeted last season, but he really captured the attention of teams at the NFL scouting combine. He ran 4.35 in the 40-yard dash (tied for third among defensive backs), produced a 42-inch vertical jump (also third among DBs) and recorded an 11-foot, 4-inch broad jump (second among DBs).
“He's got that speed that you look for, the length that you look for,” McShay said. “He’s still kind of putting it together. I like his game and I like his traits. And the other thing about Banks is he's the most reliable tackler.”
Baltimore has had a successful track record with cornerbacks. The first three cornerbacks drafted in the first round by the Ravens -- Duane Starks (1998), Chris McAlister (1999) and Jimmy Smith (2011) -- all played key roles on Super Bowl championship teams. The last corner taken in the first round by Baltimore was Humphrey (2017), who has made three Pro Bowls in six seasons.
“I think we just find corners that fit what we do,” said Joe Hortiz, the Ravens’ director of player personnel.