In this article, we check in on the five Mountaineers drafted into the NFL this year.
Karl Joseph, Oakland Raiders – The Raiders drafted Joseph with the 15th overall pick, despite the fact that, at that time, he was still recovering from a torn ACL. The team had a feeling he would be ready by training camp, and sure enough, he was cleared to practice prior to reporting. That was great for both Joseph and the Raiders. For Joseph, it meant he was fully healed. For the Raiders, it meant that they could integrate Joseph in their revamped defense from Day 1.
Thus far, Joseph has taken virtually every snap in practices, even staying over getting work with the JUGS machine. Head coach Jack Del Rio likes what he has seen:
“We’re going to throw him right in and let him compete,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We expect him to grow every day. For all of us, we want to grow and develop and be the best we can be every day. Obviously a lot more of a spotlight goes on a guy like that taken in the first round. That’s part of the deal. I think he understands that. For us, what we’re asking him to do is come out here and be himself, and work his butt off every day. He’s done that at the start. We’re happy with the way he’s working.”
Daryl Worley, Carolina Panthers – From the first day of training camp, the Panthers’ third-round pick, and second of three straight corners taken, Daryl Worley has lined up on the right side with the starters. For the most part, he’s practiced well and made some nice plays by breaking up passes and intercepting Cam Newton.
Head coach Ron Rivera stated that he feels the defense is “set on the left and on the right.” Fellow rookie James Bradberry has been the left corner throughout camp. If this holds true, then the defending NFC Champs will start two rookies at corner this season.
Nick Kwiatkoski, Chicago Bears – The Bears’ fourth-round draft pick left practice on Saturday with a hamstring injury. He has yet to return to practice.
Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles – Smallwood missed Wednesday’s practice with a quad strain suffered on Monday.
“He’s still a few days away from getting back out there,” head coach Doug Pederson said after Wednesday’s practice.
Smallwood is expected to be the Eagles’ third-down back.
KJ Dillon, Houston Texans – Dillon is in the mix in a crowded defensive backfield in Houston. He joins last year’s starters Andre Hal and Quinton Demps. The team signed Antonio Allen while retaining veteran Eddie Pleasant and undrafted players Corey Moore and Kurtis Drummond as well as Lonnie Ballentine (he is currently on the PUP list).
For him to make the roster, he will need to play very well on special teams. Thus far, he has shown he’s not afraid of getting down in the box and making contact.