clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL Draft 2016: Safety Karl Joseph visiting Bengals; still recovering from ACL tear

New, comments

A healthy Karl Joseph would likely be the first safety taken in this year's draft and someone who went high in Round 1.

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL draft will be here in just over two weeks, and the Cincinnati Bengals are continuing to meet some of the top prospects at various positions.

The West Virginia Mountaineers feature the guy some consider this year's best safety prospect, Karl Joseph, and he's set to meet with the Bengals among many other teams.

However, all of these meetings have probably less to do with Joseph working out for teams as much as it is regarding the health of his knee. There's still some uncertainty that Joseph will be ready for the upcoming season after tearing his ACL this past college season. He can't run yet, but word is he'll be ready for the start of training camp in late July.

"I'm on schedule -- I think I'm ahead of schedule right now. Dr. (James) Andrews said I'm ahead of schedule and I look good, so I'll be ready by training camp," Joseph told WVU Sports.

Before tearing his ACL, Joseph was viewed as a first-round prospect and one of the best defenders in this draft. He entered 2015 already with three seasons of starting experience, 186 tackles and 14 tackles for loss.

Joseph became a better coverage safety in 2015 as he was tied for the FBS lead with five interceptions over the first month, but then suffered his season-ending injury in a non-contact drill during a practice in the first week of October.

With the draft still two weeks away, NFL teams should have a good idea by then if Joseph will be able to return to a full-contact NFL practice by the time training camps open. If it looks like Joseph is on pace for that, he could go as high as Round 1.

Between CBS Sports' and NFL.com's 13 combined mock drafts, only Daniel Jeremiah (Panthers at 30) and Ike Taylor (29 to Cardinals) have Joseph going in the first round.

But if it turns out Joseph is even iffy to be ready for the start of the season, there's no telling how far he could fall. It's possible that he's on the board at 55 when the Bengals pick in Round 2, and that's the highest I can see them picking him.

Either way, Cincinnati will take a hard look at Joseph and other safeties since Reggie Nelson is gone and Shawn Williams is on the final year of his deal, not to mention there's no other proven safety on the roster outside of George Iloka.  Williams, the team's third safety in 2015 was practically a starter for Cincy last year, so having a guy like Joseph waiting in the wings may be a smart plan.

Oh, and it's not as though Cincinnati is afraid of taking a player coming off a major injury. They took Cedric Ogbuehi in Round 1 when at this time last year, it looked like Ced was going in Round 2 thanks in large part to his ACL tear. Taking Joseph at 24 would be a reach, but I wouldn't be totally shocked by it either.