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2016 NFL Draft Profile: West Virginia Safety Karl Joseph

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West Virginia safety Karl Joseph is a hard-hitting, aggressive defender that could fit well with the attitude that other Bengals defenders have. He's recovering from an ACL injury, but he still made a visit with the Bengals, so there could be a level of interest there. Here's what he would give the Bengals if they took him.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Even with Taylor Mays signing with the Bengals, Cincinnati is going to feel the loss of Reggie Nelson in their secondary this season. Because of that, some draft experts have looked for them to take a safety at some point in the draft this year. If they were to go that route, perhaps one of their best options would be Karl Joseph, a hard-hitting safety out of West Virginia.

Joseph only played four games of his senior season thanks to an ACL injury, but he did well in the time he had on the field, as he recorded 20 tackles and an FBS-leading five interceptions. The rest of his career at West Virginia went quite well when he was healthy, as he started every game for the Mountaineers in his freshman and sophomore seasons, and was a first-team All-Big 12 member his junior year. His success at West Virginia has already peaked the interest of the Bengalsas he made a visit with them not long ago after the Bengals also attended his Pro Day.

Combine Results:

Height: 5'10"

Weight: 205 lbs

Arm length: 32 1/8"

Hand size: 9 3/4"

Bench press: 19 reps

Joseph's injury kept him from doing any drills at the combine other than bench press, but it did not keep him from making it known how confident he feels going into the draft.

Strengths: Joseph's aggression and passion are unmatched by anyone else in this draft class. He throws himself as hard as possible at the ball-carrier every time he has the chance. This aggression coupled with his pursuit can lead to big hits in the backfield. When he isn't making huge hits, he's defending passes with tight coverage and making interceptions. Joseph's five interceptions in four games show you he has great ball-hawking skill, and he's a threat that quarterbacks have to be mindful of before they throw his way. He's great at following the quarterback's eyes, and his closing speed on passes is outstanding as well, as you can see here.

Joseph does well at playing the safety position as if he is a center fielder, playing in the middle and running down passes to either side. His man coverage skills are good as well, but they are helped by his closing speed. He can give some space and pursue the ball if his receiver is targeted. Overall, Joseph is a relentless hitter who can get into the backfield and bring guys down hard in open space, but he is also good in man coverage and is very good at running down passes in the air to pick them off.

Weaknesses: Joseph's build doesn't really favor his reckless and aggressive style of play. He's pretty average in size, but he throws himself around a lot more than most players do. Couple that with his current ACL issues, and many NFL teams could have concerns about his durability. Another issue, which turns out to be a blessing and a curse, is his aggression. While it helps him greatly when making big hits and going after passes, it can lead to some badly missed tackles, as well as plays where he vacates his zone early in an attempt to chase down an interception. You can see here that he barely gets any of this ball-carrier and doesn't get credit for a tackle because he is out of control, and so intent on making a big hit that he didn't keep his eyes on his target.

Joseph's aggression gives him the capability to create big plays, but that aggression also backfires on him. To sum up Joseph's issues, his build does not help him when it comes to his relentless style, and that relentless play can lead to some fundamental errors, both in tackling and in coverage.

Bottom line: Joseph has the potential to be a game-changing impact safety in the NFL. He has to stay healthy, and he has to use his passion correctly, but there's no doubt that he possesses the talent to make a difference at the next level. Most draft experts have Joseph going at the end of round one or early in the 2nd round, and that means he could be right in the area of the Bengals' first round pick. Despite needing a wide receiver or two, Coley Harvey of ESPN says you could definitely make a case for the Bengals taking Joseph with their 24th pick. The loss of Reggie Nelson, and the fact that Shawn Williams is going into the final year of his contract, gives Cincinnati a reason to try to add depth to the safety position. Joseph's aggressive style would fit well with players like Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict, and would make this intense defense even more intimidating. It seems doubtful that Joseph will be available when Cincinnati picks at 55, so they will have to make their decision on Joseph in the first round, if he's available then.