Karl Joseph got off to a slow start in 2016, but then picked up steam as his rookie year progressed.
Now, many are projecting big things for the second-year safety.
Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report this week joined several other analysts in predicting a strong year for the former West Virginia star, who was Oakland’s top pick in 2016. Gagnon included Joseph in his story projecting second-year breakout players around the NFL.
Gagnon wrote that because of Joseph’s skill set and the fact he’s playing behind great edge rushers in Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, “it’s hard to imagine that Joseph would have another so-so season.” Gagnon also cited Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, who said this spring he believes Joseph will “take a big step forward” in his development in 2017 now that he’s healthy and completely dialed in to the Raiders defensive scheme.
This week, as the Raiders went through a three-day mandatory, full-squad mini camp, Joseph said that he, too, believes he’ll be a much bigger contributor in Year 2.
“It’s a whole different world,” Joseph told reporters Thursday. “I feel like night and day, really, from now to last year. I came in hurt and I couldn’t really do much. This year, just being able to go through the offseason with the guys, more than just the football part of it, but like just being able to bond with the guys and get a feel for some of the guys, I think has been very helpful.”
As a rookie, Joseph played in 12 games, starting nine. He was in on 60 tackles, had one interception, six passes defensed and recovered one fumble.
Now, Joseph says a key for starting his second year on the right foot will be taking care of himself between now and the start of training camp in late July.
“I’m definitely going to keep improving in the weight room, trying to get more explosive, working on my strength and everything, working on man coverage in the offseason,” he said. “Just everything that I know that I’ve spoken to the coaches that they feel like I can improve at. That’s going to be my main focus this offseason heading into camp.”