Real Time Analytics

2016 NFL Draft Preview: Karl Joseph

Kevin Jairaj (USA Today)/WVU Safety Karl Joseph

How does versatile West Virginia safety Karl Joseph stack up?

The Sports Quotient’s annual Draft Preview series returns! Over the course of the 10 weeks leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. This week, we focus on the safety position. Today we examine Karl Joseph from West Virginia.

Collegiate Career

Karl Joseph made an early impact as a safety at The University of West Virginia. He started all 13 games as a true freshman, took home freshman All-America recognition, led his team in tackles, and tied for the team lead in interceptions.

Joseph’s breakout season would come in his junior year. That season started with an 18-tackle performance against Alabama. It ended when he was named an All-Big 12 selection. Unfortunately, Joseph’s senior year was limited to just four games after injuring his knee early in the season.


Joseph’s biggest strength is defending the run. He is instinctive and usually takes good angles to track down the ball carrier. When he gets in striking distance, he is a powerful tackler and can deliver some impressive hits.

In this instance, Joseph was attempting to defend an option and although he did not deliver a big hit, he put himself in a good position to reach the keeper or the pitch, and ended the play with a good burst to trip up the quarterback.


The former Mountaineer also does a great job of tracking the ball in the air. Against Maryland, Joseph looked more like a cornerback in the way he walled-off the running back, high pointed the ball, and came down with the interception.


On the play below, Joseph displayed his short area burst when he initially broke on the receiver running an out route, but then adjusted to the poorly thrown pass for the interception.


When asked to patrol the middle of the field, Joseph shows off his range and does a good job of reaching the ball carrier closer to the sideline. Initially in man coverage on this play, Joseph traveled quickly from the middle of the field to the numbers, and prevented a big run.



Although he attended the combine for interviews and medical tests, Joseph could not participate in any of the drills due to the knee injury he sustained last season. His status for West Virginia’s pro-day on Apr. 4 is still unknown.

In certain cases, Joseph’s aggressive nature can be to his detriment. In the run game Joseph occasionally comes at his target too fast and dives in an attempt to make a dramatic play instead of using the proper tackling technique. Here he dove at the ball carrier and missed the tackle completely.


In the passing game, Joseph is frequently deceived by play action passes. In this clip, he bit on the fake so badly that he lost his footing.


Other times, Joseph will vacate his assignment too early looking for a big play. The play below had Joseph in a zone defense, where he chose to attack the receiver on the 50-yard line even though the pass was intended for the receiver at the West Virginia 35.


At 5’10” Joseph is undersized compared to a 6’0” safety like Jalen Ramsey.


Joseph’s calling card is his versatility. His ball skills, range, and physicality make him a well-rounded prospect and a prime candidate to go somewhere on the second day of the draft, likely in the third round. If there were fewer concerns about his injury, Joseph could have been considered a first round pick. Ultimately, not many safeties in this class bring the diverse tools that Joseph brings.

Best Fit

Any team looking to add depth at defensive back, with the hopes of landing an eventual starter, should consider Joseph. At the next level Joseph probably projects more as a strong safety given his performance versus the run, but could play free safety if needed due to his ball skills and range.

Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Washington, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Detroit, and Los Angeles are all teams either looking for potential upgrades at safety or have impending free agents at the position. If healthy, adding Joseph would give a team a defensive back with a diverse skill set. 

All GIF content provided by

Edited by Emily Berman, Coleman Gray.

Who was the last West Virginia defensive back to be drafted
Created 3/1/16
  1. Keith Tandy
  2. Robert Sands
  3. Brandon Hogan
  4. Ellis Lankster

Be the first to comment! 0 comments


What do you think?

Please log in or register to comment!

Can't get enough SQ?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter here!