After losing both their starting outside cornerbacks, Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie, in back to back offseasons the Dallas Cowboys have been challenged with replenishing their talent. Last year, they took a nice first step with the selection of Trevon Diggs in the 2020 NFL Draft. Many expected the second piece to come on Day 1 of this year's draft as two of the top prospects, Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II, were primed to come off the board right about when the Cowboys were going to pick. Call if fate.
As it turned out, things weren't as serendipitous as we thought as both Horn and Surtain were drafted in the two spots immediately before the Cowboys pick. Whether it was a result of intention or reaction, the team went a different direction as they took the best linebacker prospect in this draft in Penn State's Micah Parsons.
Taking an elite talent LB was a solid start to the draft for a team that needs a lot of defensive help, but the Cowboys finished the day still in need of a cornerback. From picks 22 to 33, four more cornerbacks came off the board. To ensure the Cowboys walked away from this draft with one of the better prospects, they pulled the trigger on Kentucky's Kelvin Joseph by making him their second-round pick.
The 5'11" 197 lb. corner has been on an adventurous ride during his college tenure, spending a year at LSU before transferring to Kentucky. He only has nine total college starts under his belt, but it was an impressive stint as he displayed talent that is indicative of a first-round pick. With great upside also comes great risk, and today I'll dive into some of the pros and cons of the Cowboys new corner.
What I love about him:
Usually, a corner will offer speed or the fluidity to change direction well, but in rare instances you'll find guys who can do both. Joseph is one of those guys. His 4.34 speed clocks out faster than both Horn and Surtain, meaning he has the recovery speed should a receiver get out ahead of him. At the same time, he's very twitchy and can mirror receivers throughout their routes. His suddenness allows him to close on plays quickly. Joseph does a very good job looking back and shows great ball skills. He's a corner that is going to fight for the ball on contested throws. He's a physical player and is a willing and effective tackler. Joseph is a very confident player and brings a little swag to the field. He has no fear against tough competition. Against Alabama, the Crimson Tide went after him just three times, resulting in two forced incompletions and one interception.
What I don't love about him:
While the athleticism is there, the fundamentals still need some work. His poor vision and lack of attentiveness can get him in trouble at times. His desire to step up and make plays can have a negative effect as he is susceptable to giving up big plays if the quarterback can get him to take the cheese. Joseph can be a little grabby and sometimes it will catch the officials attention. This is especially concerning when his eyes get him in trouble and he bites on fakes, causing him to latch on to prevent the receiver from blowing by him. He also comes with come character concerns as there has been more than one occasion where his lack of maturity has been on display. He's not immune to being rattled, so don't be surprised when he gets flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty. He's also been suspended for violating team rules. Having a cool head will be paramount if Joseph is to max out his potential and be legit corner in this league.
If you honed in on just the good stuff, Joseph is every bit as good as the top corners in this draft class. Unfortunately, there is both good and bad with his play. He will need to do a better job with his eyes and show better control when he reacts, but even more important will be his ability to keep his head in the game. He's a high risk/high reward player and if the Cowboys are fortunate to be the recipient of his upside, they may have just solidified their starting corner positions for years to come.