There was a time earlier this season when it appeared the Raiders were ready to give up on Karl Joseph.
But with just three games remaining in this 2018 season, the safety and former first-round draft pick has finally started to play at a consistently high level and now appears to be in the team’s plans for 2019.
In the Raiders’ victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Joseph – the former West Virginia standout now in his third season – was in on three tackles and had one pass defensed. But the stats don’t tell the whole story, noted Mike Guerrelli of the analytic website Pro Football Focus.
Wrote Guerrelli: “Joseph led the Raiders defense with a 78.8 game grade against the Steelers, playing all 60 defensive snaps. In Weeks 11-14 this season, Joseph ranks seventh among safeties with an 83.7 overall grade and ranks ninth with a 77.4 coverage grade over that span.”
Joseph, who’s healthy and fit now after battling injuries, has started five straight games. In that streak, he has an interception, two passes defensed and has been in on 24 tackles.
Known as a hard hitter throughout his college career, Joseph is now doing the same thing in the NFL, despite the fact he’s just 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds.
“That’s how I’ve always played, from little leagues through high school and college,” Joseph recently told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group.
Added cornerback Daryl Worley: “Karl brings an attitude with the physicality and speed that he plays with. He’s really the X factor we have back there.”
There were reports the Raiders were shopping Joseph just before the trade deadline, and that he’d be one more first-round choice to be ejected, along with Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. But, the Raiders kept him, and now he’s playing the best football of his three-year pro career.
“I’ve told numerous people I want to be here,” Joseph told McDonald. “I’m going to make the best of it and take advantage of every opportunity I get and help the team win. I can’t control what happens in terms of trade deadlines and the offseason. You never know in this business. But when you get drafted somewhere, it’s special to you. This is where I want to be.”
Joseph is signed through the 2019 season, with a team option available for 2020.
Joseph and the 3-10 Raiders will travel to Cincinnati to play the 5-8 Bengals Sunday. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m.