My favorite player in the draft. Karl Joseph is 5'10 205 and has drawn comparisons to former All-Pro safety Bob Sanders the way he launches into ball carriers. Joseph has been decapitating players since he was a freshman.
Up to this year.
Make sure you watch that with the sound on. That thud you hear doesn't happen often with players. With Joseph, it's the norm. The reason you aren't hearing about Joseph going top 15 in the draft is because he suffered non-contact knee injury. As you're reading this I want you to keep in mind that "non-contact" part because Joseph plays with such a reckless style of play but he never was injured in the process of torpedoing himself in others. Let's go over what makes Joseph special.
Before I hype Joseph up and make him sound like the best safety since Sean Taylor, the reckless style of play does lead to miss tackles. It's like his eyes get so big when he sees his target and he's thinking "must. take. head. off" and he gets there and either leaves his feet or didn't come flat enough on his angle to the running back. This year I counted 5 missed tackles in 4 games.
It's not ideal to leave your feet when you're tackling and that's where Joseph gets himself in trouble. I would be very worried about this if he wasn't making plays.
He makes plays. A ton of them.
Karl Joseph: love his aggression in the run game & how fast he closes. ++ range & best man cover S I've seen. Baller pic.twitter.com/83gQ5QXqVc— KP (@KP_Show) January 15, 2016
He had at least 6 stops this year alone and assisted on a few others against Oklahoma. Joseph has forced 7 fumbles in his career and based on these hits, that shouldn't surprise you at all. Willingness to tackle for a defensive back is huge and the way Joseph is wired he has no issue coming downhill and in a hurry to do so. The ground he covers moving forward is impressive and he plays with a physical style around the line of scrimmage that is sorely lacking on San Diego's roster. Not to mention his ability as a blitzer. He "gets skinny" and can beat offensive lineman and close quickly. He's fun.
What separates Joseph from other safeties in the class is his ability in coverage. There aren't any glaring weaknesses. If you need him to be a split safety and cover half or a quarter of the field, no problem. If you want him to be Mike Trout and play centerfield then there's nobody better in the draft. If Joseph has to come underneath and take away the short passes in a curl to flat zone, he'll bait the QB and end up with an interception. Best of all, his ability in man coverage comes off like a cornerback at times. He can drop down in the slot and take away your tight end and receiver. He has no issue turning and running with guys downfield, nor does he have issues going lateral.
Let's talk about some of the plays he made. Oklahoma is the best example. Not one play, but the game in general.
hyped up Karl Joseph vs OU.We know he'll come lay the boom vs run but he's the best man cover S I've seen this draft pic.twitter.com/Y2kh3u1C66— KP (@KP_Show) March 8, 2016
The 1st clip he is in the slot to the bottom of the screen against the best route runner in the class and he has the patience to not overreact to the head fake Shepard throws at him and easily changes direction and stays in his hip pocket.
The 2nd clip is all Mike Trout. Wow. Not only did he get there but jarred the ball loose with a big hit. That range is outstanding.
Clip three is in the slot against Oklahoma's number 2 receiver, Didi Westbrook. More good patience, which is so so important when you are in man to man coverage, and notice how Joseph runs to his upfield shoulder and squeezes. Doesn't give the WR any room to make a play.
Clip 4 he gets a little grabby but I thought it was important to show his ability to change directions with him.
Clip 5 Joseph is the underneath curl flat defender and comes up with an interception that was thrown right to him.
Another clip of Joseph in man coverage. It's 4th down and you can see by the route combination the outside guy is clearing out so the slot receiver can get to the sticks for a 1st down on an out route. Joseph shows good route recognition here and more importantly, finishes the play.
He can do anything you ask of him in coverage. I'm not sure you can say that about many, if any, other safeties in the draft. I'm not sure how fast Joseph will run the 40 yard dash but seeing the ground he covers going in any direction and the jump he gets on passes I'm willing to forgive a slower time.
How high should he go?
It's all about the medicals with Joseph, like it seems to be with many of the talented players this year. The knee injury happened early October so I'm not sure we will get a pro day before the draft. If everything checks out in my opinion Joseph is a top 10 player in this draft. If doctors say he'll be ready for training camp then this should be a no-brainer at pick 33.
Here's how I graded out Joseph compared to the best player in the draft.
Joseph is better in man coverage by a hair. Ramsey is more disruptive in zone with his length and getting in passing lanes. Funny enough that the top 2 safeties in my eyes are below average tacklers. I don't hide the fact that either are. At the same time, I can forgive that since both players make a ton of plays and can win all over the field. Joseph is behind Ramsey in 5 categories by the most minuscule amount that the drop off between these two compared to the drop off between Buckner and let's say Bullard makes me think the Buckner/Joseph combo would be the most ideal way to start the draft for the Chargers. Not only by getting the best players available but at a position of need.
I'm a big Joseph supporter as you can tell. He's one of a few players in this draft that not only has the talent to be a stud but where he plays 100 mph and his style rubs off on the rest of the defense. If you're trying to change the culture on that side of the ball while looking to upgrade in talent, look no further than Karl Joseph.