Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio is enthusiastic when talking about top draft pick Karl Joseph.
Though the West Virginia safety missed much of the past season because of a knee injury, he’s expected to be healthy and able to compete for a starting job in training camp in July. The Raiders don’t believe the injury is a concern, and selected the 5-foot-10, 205-pounder with the 14th overall choice. It’s possible that he could start alongside free-agent pick-up Reggie Nelson.
“Karl Joseph, he was as much fun on film to watch as really anyone coming out this year, really instinctive player, does a great job anticipating the quarterback, where he wants to go with the ball, and getting himself in position to make plays,” Del Rio said in a recent interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “He’s a playmaker. This is a guy that will go over and strike people. This is a really active guy that will have some pop to him. We really like him.”
Joseph is a terrific, aggressive hitter and solid in coverage – especially against tight ends – but wasn’t always graded as the best safety available in this year’s draft, according to several draft analysts before the first round. Some saw his height as an issue. But recently, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted that in a review of 19 NFL scouts, Joseph polled as the best safety in the draft. He was selected by six as the top rookie at his position, narrowly beating out Vonn Bell (taken by the Saints) and ahead of Keanu Neal (Falcons).
Joseph also is a big believer in himself.
“I’m a dog,” Joseph told a writer for the Raiders website. “I’m sure all the coaching staff will tell you that. I think I play with that intensity. I play with a chip on my shoulder. I’m very confident in myself and I play with a deep passion and love for the game. I don’t think there’s anybody else in the draft that plays with more passion than me.”