Karl Joseph May Be Better Than You Think

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The Browns added two safeties during free agency. The first one they signed was Karl Joseph. Joseph is a young, talented safety that spent his first four years with the Raiders. If he is so talented, then why would the Raiders just let him walk? Durability. That is the only word you need to answer that question. No matter the level of talent a player has, if he is not able to stay on the field, then you move on. That is also how you get a talented safety like Joseph on a cheap one year deal. A healthy Joseph could end up one of the steals of free agency, and here are a few reasons why.

Pro Football Focus

According to PFF, Joseph was ranked as the 49th-best available free agent and one of the top safeties on the market. Here is what PFF had to say about Joseph entering free agency:

A player who has always earned consistently solid grades, Karl Joseph just hasn’t made enough splash plays in his time in the NFL to convince his own team to buy-in long-term or even keep his starting spot secure. Joseph has just four interceptions in four seasons with the Raiders and has forced just a single fumble, but he has hit double-digit defensive stops every season and shown the ability to be a solid force on defense. Joseph has talent, particularly in a coverage scheme that plays with split safeties, and he will likely be available for a bargain fee given how his Raiders tenure panned out.

He began his career with four seasons of 500+ snaps grading out between 67 and 74 overall by PFF. Karl excelled as a box safety, earning a grade of 82.2. The snaps and grades are great but Joseph has never played a full 16 games in a season. His career-best is 15 games back in 2017. This does show a very capable player when healthy especially when playing closer to the line of scrimmage. If Joseph can stay mostly healthy here is the player he could be.

Run Defense

Run defense is where Joseph has excelled in his young career. When playing in the box, very few safeties have been better than Joseph. In just nine games in 2019, he was able to put 49 tackles, 4 for loss. He did miss eight tackles last year placing him at a 14% missed tackle rate per pro football reference, health was an issue. In 2018, he had a similar tackle number, and only a 7.7% missed tackle rate. That is more like the player he is capable of being. For a team that gave up 140+ yards per game on the ground, a healthy Karl Joseph could be a huge help. The biggest if is always going to be staying healthy with Joseph.

Coverage

Joseph struggled mightily in this department the first two years of his career. Over the previous two, he improved to being sufficient in coverage. The Browns countered his weakness with Andrew Sendejo, who excels in coverage. Joe Woods has made his name as a secondary coach, so he should get able to get the best out of both. If Joseph can have the cover as he did in 2018 and lock down the box, this stands to be a great move. A secondary of Greedy Williams, Denzel Ward, and Joseph could be extraordinary with Woods as the defensive coordinator.


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