Karl Joseph, Strong Safety
West Virginia University
5’11” 197 lbs.
- Very physical player
- Lays people out coming downhill
- Can cover a lot of ground quickly
- Appeared to improve in coverage a lot in 2015
- Versatile – Moves all over the defense
- Special teams
- Experienced 4 year starter
- Team Leader
- Very small
- Can be over aggressive, leading to missed tackles
- Small sample size of good coverage
- Coming off of knee injury
- Will injuries be a problem at next level?
Joseph earned a reputation at West Virginia as one of the biggest hitters in college football, as well as pound for pound one of the toughest on the field. In his first 3 seasons, he was seen as a punishing in the box safety that struggled in coverage. However, in his senior season he appeared to be rounding out his game, snatching 5 interceptions in 4 games, including 3 in the season opener. The picks don’t tell the whole story, as his technique in coverage looked much improved.
Joseph was used all over the place in the Mountaineers scheme, lining up as a deep safety, in the slot, on the edge, in the middle of the field. I loved watching him on tape when he would start to drop into coverage and then diagnose a run play. He was able to come from very deep to lay out a running back for minimal gains. That kind of aggressiveness did get him into trouble, on some plays not even getting a finger on a ball carrier that barely made a move. He still made a lot of tackles on motor alone despite taking a bad angle, but with his size being a bigger issue in the NFL, he needs to learn to be more efficient with his tackling.
I’d also like to see him try to fill out his frame a little more once he’s in an NFL weight program. I worry that his lack of size could lead to him getting nicked up often.
How he Fits (or doesn’t) with the Steelers
Mike Tomlin historically loves his run and hit guys on defense. That’s Joseph. Joseph is a little taller, and not nearly as well built as Shamarko Thomas, but if the Steelers did select Joseph, they’d likely be hoping for the same types of things they thought they’d get out of Shamarko. An undersized, hard hitting, in the box strong safety.
I’m not comparing the players at all, but Karl Joseph could be the high motor run stuffing safety that moves all over the formation ala Troy Polamalu; while complimenting the hard hitting coverage free safety in Mike Mitchell, filling the Ryan Clark role. Joseph appeared to be improving to the point that you could task him with covering running backs out of the backfield, but I’d be worried about matching him up very often with tight ends due to his lack of size.
Keith Butler’s fondness for blitzing anyone on the field would bode well for Joseph, as he has a lot of experience lining up outside of the OLB on the edge.
Draft Range Prediction