Kerby Joseph, S
School: Illinois | Conference: Big 10
College Experience: RS Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6’1” / 200 lbs
Projected Draft Status: Rounds 2-3
Player Comp: Malik Hooker
Though Joseph played four years at Illinois, his impact was hardly felt until his second junior season, in 2021, when he truly broke out. He ended up as the #1 ranked defensive back in nation, per PFF, co-led the nation in interceptions (5), and was named first team All Big 10. He was also recognized by the team for his special teams play as a gunner during the season.
One of the few, true free safeties in the draft, he possesses the length and range to patrol against deep passes and force turnovers. Joseph had a streak of 5 straight games with a fumble recovery or interception during the middle of the 2021 season. Still relatively inexperienced, there’s reason to believe his instincts for the position could continue to improve with additional seasoning in the pros. His Senior Bowl performances put him on the radar of a number of pro scouts.
- Has the ability to play a true single-high safety.
- Quick short-range acceleration.
- Seamlessly handles transitions to deep coverage.
- Good in contested ball situations.
- Can deliver solid hits on WRs.
- Has some position flexibility.
- Still relatively inexperienced at the position.
- Has to work on instincts and angles.
- Not well suited to work in the box.
- Has to work on tackling skills.
Let’s See His Work
Kerby Joseph's 90.6 Coverage Grade is the highest by a Big 10 Safety since Malik Hooker in 2016 pic.twitter.com/elOndpC93D— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 25, 2022
Illinois S Kerby Joseph checked in with 33 1/4" arm— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) February 2, 2022
Plays like this are why teams love that length at safety pic.twitter.com/fMs1EuBF5G
My top-2 ranked safeties in Mobile making plays.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 4, 2022
Jalen Pitre with the aggressive coverage vs. McBride.
Kerby Joseph covers ground and shows off the ball skills. pic.twitter.com/5jABSktQZ4
How He Would Fit
Aside from a reliable middle linebacker, the position Washington’s defense is probably most in need of - and has been for a very long time - is a true, single-high, free safety. Someone to help take pressure off the rest of the secondary and deliver fear into opposing wide receivers. As indicated above, Joseph is not a line of scrimmage thumping box safety, but he is, by my count, perhaps one of around two or three legitimate free safety prospects in this year’s draft.
His collegiate experience is fairly thin, and his instincts still need refinement in order to have success in the pros, but if the team sees his potential for growth, he could well be worth a third round pick (that Washington doesn’t currently have) to help patrol center field in Landover for years to come.
In what round would you like to see Washington draft Kerby Joseph?
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