The 2016 NFL Draft is now only a little more than a month away. That means the countdown is on for the Kansas City Chiefs to find which players in this class are a good fit for their team. This week I’m going to profile one of the players that I would love to see in the red and gold next season and that is West Virginia safety Karl Joseph.
If you aren’t familiar with Joseph my quick description is that he’s an undersized safety that is extremely physical and versatile and is coming off a knee injury that ended his 2015 season. With the Chiefs currently down three members of their secondary that played significant minutes last season (Sean Smith, Tyvon Branch, and Husain Abdullah) they are in desperate need of reinforcements on the back end of their defense and I believe Joseph would be a great fit to help fill that void.
When I watch Karl Joseph there are two things that stand out right away. The first is how physical he is for a player that is only 5’10” and 205 pounds. As someone who watched a fair amount of Iowa Hawkeyes football games growing up I am reminded a little of Bob Sanders’ college game tape. Sanders was only 5-foot-8 but the physicality from a smaller safety is definitely similar. Joseph will drop his shoulder and lay out receivers and tight ends and will also not hesitate to fill a hole and lay into a running back even if he is noticeably outsized.
The other thing that stands out is how versatile he is. If you go to draftbreakdown.com (which is a great site where I watch most of my game film) and check out just the first two minutes of Joseph’s game against Oklahoma from this past season you will see him line up as a linebacker in the box, a “center field” safety, a slot cornerback, and come off the edge on a cornerback blitz.
That versatility is what I believe makes him a great fit for the KC defense. If you look at how Bob Sutton utilized guys like Eric Berry, Ron Parker, and Husain Abdullah last season he utilized their versatility to alter his packages without changing personnel. Berry can play as a traditional safety or up in the box acting as a nickel linebacker. Parker is equally effective as a traditional safety and a nickel corner (just don’t put him outside). Abdullah may have been the most versatile of the three playing as a traditional safety, up in the box, and as a nickel back. I think Joseph’s skill set would make him a perfect replacement for Abdullah should he not be back in Kansas City.
Karl Joseph’s biggest negatives aren’t really skill set related. He’s shorter than you would like a traditional safety (especially one that plays in the box) to be and there are health concerns that must be answered as he is coming off of a season ending knee injury last year. It should be noted that it was Joseph’s first major injury in four seasons as a starter at WVU and it actually happened in a non-contact practice drill not as a result of his physical play.
In fact, the only other knock on Joseph is that he is too aggressive at times and can find himself out of position as a result. However, that is fixable with good coaching and I believe the Chiefs coaching staff and tutelage of a veteran like Eric Berry would be a great fit for him.
Here are what some others are saying about him.
"Pound-for-pound one of the most physical players in the country, and plays much tougher than he looks. He loves violent contact and times his hits well to jar the ball loose. He plays fast and low to the ground to generate his power as a tackler, using leverage and reckless abandon as a finisher."
"Team captain and impactful Leader. Plays with passion and a deep love of the game. Play-making safety with man cover ability and plus ball skills."
Mike Mayock of NFL.com has Karl Joseph as his number two safety after Jalen Ramsey of Florida State who most are predicting to go in the top five picks. He recently said this about him on Twitter:
You may not currently find Joseph in a lot of first round projections but after watching his tape I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sneak into the late first round if his knee checks out with the doctors. It just so happens a certain team that I know and love is picking in the late first round and has defensive back at the top of its list of needs.
I highly recommend you take a few minutes and go to draftbreakdown.com and watch Joseph’s games against Oklahoma and Georgia Southern in their entirety. However, if you want to see a few plays that highlight his abilities I’ve got a viewing guide set up on the next page.
Next: Check Out Karl Joseph's Game Tape