PFF scouting report: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia

Sam Monson and the PFF draft team break down the play of safety Karl Joseph ahead of the 2016 NFL draft.

| 6 months ago
(Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

(Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

PFF scouting report: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia


Here is the PFF draft profile for West Virginia safety Karl Joseph, which incorporates PFF’s college grades and scouting intel from our team of analysts. To see all of PFF’s 2016 scouting reports, click here

Position fit:

Versatile safety in almost any scheme (anything but single-high FS)

Stats to know:

In just four games this season, Joseph posted a grade (+12.4) that would have ranked him inside he top 20 in the draft class overall.

What he does best:

• Joseph is a powerful presence in the box, coming up quickly and delivering big shots and tackles close to the line of scrimmage. He also has no problem with taking on linemen blockers and will happily attack much bigger players. Notched 38 defensive stops in 2014, and eight across four games this season before injury.

• Reads the game well in all areas. Both in coverage and the run game, has a good ability to diagnose the play and understand what is happening and where the threat is coming from. Will comfortably react to coverage danger and keeps his eyes where they need to be throughout the play.

• Can cover pretty well in both off-man coverage and zones. Will cover receivers closely and uses his body/contact well to mitigate a potential speed disadvantage against quick receivers.

• Plays the ball well. Had five interceptions over four games this season to lead the FBS before being injured in practice, ending his season.

• Zero penalties across the past two seasons of play.

Biggest concern:

• Tore his ACL after four games last season, so will have to be medically cleared, and we may not see the best version of Joseph in his rookie season.

• Straight-line speed and range. Injury means we may not get an answer to this question in the form of a 40-yard dash time before the draft, but Joseph at times looks to struggle for outright speed, which will limit his ability to play centerfield and single-high free safety. Can make up for it at times by reading the QB and setting off early, but NFL QBs are better with their eyes than their college counterparts, and that may get him into trouble at the next level.

• Is he big enough to attack the same way he does in college at the next level? Getting into physical confrontations with offensive linemen at 205 pounds is not likely to go well in the NFL.

Pro style comparison: 

Eric Weddle, Baltimore Ravens. Like Weddle, Joseph should be able to excel in all areas of the game playing safety, but also like Weddle, the one area he would not be fully at home would be the Earl Thomas-type role of a deep-lying, single-high free safety. Joseph has the ability to become an integral part of a defense at the next level.

Bottom line:

There are people out there that believe Karl Joseph is the best defensive back in the entire draft. That seems over the top, but there is little doubt that he was on track for a fantastic season before getting hurt, and shows very few flaws to his game. Safety in today’s NFL varies according to team and defensive scheme, but Joseph has the ability to excel in almost all schemes at the next level. His ACL injury and inability to answer question marks by participating in workouts, however, will likely prevent him from being drafted early.

  • shaunhan murray

    This guy has been mocked to the Steelers here and there, and I kinda like him. I have come around to the belief that the Steelers need a saftey much more than a corner especially since they minimize their them, I actually wrote something about it for my school magazine (it doesn’t fit with the magazine in any way and wont be accepted, mainly because I run that section and already have moved it to the unacceptable pile) and I found that they were pretty good everywhere except on the deep ball and Safeties have a huge impact on that.

  • matilack

    Bob Sanders 2.0