Editor's Note: Joe will be breaking down different Bengals players in scouting reports, judging their strengths, weaknesses and giving his overall impression, starting with guys who could possibly be leaving the team when the lockout ends and free agency begins. Keep an eye out for more scouting reports that will be coming soon.
Strengths: Exceptional athlete; great speed with very fluid hips; Agility and Acceleration are top notch; At best in man coverage. Excels in routes where the wide receiver has to make a sharp cut (comebacks, ins and outs, slants), this is due to Joseph's agility and anticipation. Joseph is almost as good in zone coverages as he is in man, he does a good job at disguising his coverage in order to bait the ball to be thrown in a specific area. For example: He's assigned a short zone in the flats. Joseph will bump the WR and begin to run down field with him creating the illusion that the flats are open for a tight end or a running back. Once the ball is thrown in that direction, Joseph is already peeling off of his WR to make a big hit or knock down the ball thrown into the flat. Joseph has become a good tackling cornerback and will lay a shoulder into a bigger player. He's not scared to hit. Joseph also does and excellent job of getting his arms and hands on the ball for pass breakups.
Weaknesses: Bigger WRs can give Joseph troubles. Jump balls and fade routes hurt him the most because he doesn't have the best ball skills. He can lose sight of the ball and can't recover to make a play. His ball skills have dramatically increases since he was drafted, but he still misses a few more interceptions than you'd like. Nagging injuries have hurt Joseph's production and reputation. He's never had a serious injury, but every season something comes up where he misses a couple of games. He also has played left CB exclusively for the majority of his career.
Overall: In my opinion, Johnathan Joseph is the Bengals best all around cornerback. The Cincinnati defense plays a lot of singe high (one safety in deep coverage) and man coverage underneath, which means only one safety over the top to help the corners. Most of the time, that safety is shading over to Leon Hall's side. That's about the only time you see Joseph get beat deep. He's a top-five physical talent at the cornerback position. When he's close to 100 percent healthy and the rest of the defense is on their game, Joseph is a rare shut down cornerback. I've seen him completely lock down one side of the field and force offenses to start looking elsewhere. Joseph is a vital piece to the Bengals defense and he is irreplaceable at this point. If anybody expects to sign him, it could be around the five year, $50 million deal range.