CHICAGO– West Virginia University’s hard-hitting Karl Joseph was selected 14th overall in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday by the Oakland Raiders.
Joseph is a physical, smart, play-making safety who is a team player and plays with passion for the game. He is versatile enough to play in the box against the run as well as play in coverage.
In his career with the Mountaineers, Joseph had nine interceptions. Five of those came in four games last season before injuring his knee.
The 5-foot-10, 205-pound safety is the fourth WVU defender to be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft and the first since the Seattle Seahawks selected Bruce Irvin in the 2012.
Oakland lost nine-time Pro Bowler Charles Woodson, who retired after a stellar 2015 season. Nate Allen’s health problems were a lingering concern for the Raiders.
Joseph forced eight fumbles in his first three seasons. He started in 42 games at WVU and was on track to finish his career with more starts than any player in program history.
The Orlando, Fla. native finished with 274 career tackles including 104 as a freshman.
Oakland added Joseph to bolster a depleted secondary. The Raiders added safety Reggie Nelson and cornerback Sean Smith in free agency.
Head Coach Jack Del Rio told SiriusXM NFL Radio earlier in April that the team would look to add talent at the safety spot.
With Allen’s health concerns and Oakland allowing a NFL-high 12 receiving touchdowns by tight ends last season, Joseph could make an immediate impact.
“We need to acquire some people there, we’re going to make it more competitive throughout this offseason we’ll continue to monitor availability as free agents, we’ll continue to monitor and prepare ourselves for the draft,” he said. “To me, you have to acquire talent, you have to acquire guys who can get it done in the back end and be able to make plays. It helps if you have veteran experience but it’s not a must-have if you acquire talent.”
The Raiders’ secondary struggled at times last season. According to Football Outsiders, the Panthers were second in the NFL in pass defense DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average), which measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent. The Raiders were 16th.
With the additions of Smith, Nelson and Joseph Oakland’s secondary is in a much better place.
A bolstered secondary helps solidify a much-improved defense.
The Raiders also added former Mountaineer Irvin to boast a tough front-seven. Kahlil Mack is the cornerstone on the edge and the addition of Irvin gives Oakland a duo of edge defenders that should strike fear into opponents’ offenses.
With Mack and Irvin holding down the edge, Mario Edwards Jr. should be free to spend more time at defensive end, where he shined at the beginning of last season. He was the 12th-best run stop percentage among 3-4 defensive ends.
The Raiders added Nose tackle Dan Williams, who finished third among defensive tackles with a 12.1 run-stop percentage.
Inside linebacker is still an area of concern but Oakland still has time to make adjustments there.
The Raiders are poised to become contenders next season in the AFC West.