The Raiders Took Karl Joseph Too Early, But He Can Help Their Defense
Fortunately for former West Virginia safety Karl Joseph, he didn't have to wait too long before he heard his name called on NFL Draft day, but the Oakland Raiders could be regretting this selection due to the level of talent that was still left on the board.
While most NFL analysts looked at Joseph as a Day 2 pick because of his medical concerns, the Oakland Raiders bet on his potential by making him the 14th overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Joseph missed a majority of his senior season after sustaining a non-contact knee injury during the practice week prior the Mountaineers’ fifth game of the 2015 season, and though he has been described as a clear-cut first-round talent, Joseph’s draft stock took a significant hit because of the injury.
Before his injury, Joseph started in all 41 games he played in, per WVUSports.com.
In those 41 games, Joseph accumulated 280 tackles, 9 interceptions (5 in his four games in 2015), and 16.5 tackles for loss in his four-year career at West Virginia.
According to NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock, Joseph is the best safety in this year’s class, but he also understood that Joseph could slip in this year’s draft because of the concerns surrounding his torn ACL.
"He remind(s) me a little bit of a poor-man’s Earl Thomas," Mayock said, via Alec Brzezinski of SportingNews.com. "I don’t know if he will go in the first or second round, coming off an ACL, but I firmly believe this kid’s going to be a big-time player."
According to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, Joseph is expected to get back on the field in time for NFL training camp.
In Oakland, Joseph will have an opportunity to serve in a limited role while he continues to work towards returning to full health, as Nate Allen, TJ Carrie, and free-agent addition Reggie Nelson are all expected to rotate in at safety depending on the defensive package.
Given his ability as a run defender, Joseph should see a majority of his snaps from within the box.
Injury aside, Joseph brings a hard-hitting mentality that is relatively unmatched in comparison to the other safeties in this class, which of course, will give Oakland's defense a much more physical identity in 2016.
Last season, the Raiders ranked 17th in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play last season.
Though it may have been a bit of reach at 14th overall, the Raiders will unquestionably benefit from Joseph’s ability as an in-the-box run defender with upside in shallow coverage if he can stay healthy.
Here's an idea of what kind hitter/ball hawk Joseph can be for the Silver and Black.