Karl Joseph didn’t get hurt while laying the wood on some helpless receiver.
A non-contact ACL injury on October 6th that was sustained by the Raiders’ first round draft pick, might keep him off the practice field for the majority of Oakland’s offseason program, and the team doesn’t have a clear timetable on when he’ll be able to get into Raiders practices.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said:
“We’ll let him come here and let the doctors determine how much and to what level. He’ll be here I don’t know when they’ll clear him but the prognosis is good. He’ll be ready to play this year.”
The Raiders ranked 25th in passing yards allowed during their 2015 season that saw a surging organization begin to flirt with the postseason for the first time in over a decade.
Oakland added safety Reggie Nelson and cornerback Sean Smith in free agency, the two considered among the best in the league at their respective jobs. Now they get the top safety prospect in the draft, and arguably the best defensive back.
Raiders’ head coach Jack Del Rio put Oakland’s defensive backs on notice during the combine, saying no job was safe for members of the defensive secondary. After the Raiders’ selection was announced, Del Rio said:
“He’s a guy that’s very versatile, he can play at all the levels of the defense. He can come off the edge as a blitzer, he can play in the box, he can play center field. He’s a guy that does a great job at taking angles, a very effective and efficient hitter and tackler. plays with a great temperament. We just think he’s a really good football player, and he has an infectious personality.”
Joseph’s college film shows a number of big hits and top-level ball skills, with some resemblance to Earl Thomas of the Seahawks. So it’s easy to understand why the Raiders drafted him despite his knee injury.
But the concerns regarding injuries and hard-hitting safeties like Joseph will remain, at least for the foreseeable future.
Joseph’s rehabilitation has ramped up to light running and change of direction exercises, and he says that he’s been comfortable through the recovery stages thus far. The 22-year-old said:
“Right now I plan on being ready by training camp. The knee is feeling good, I just have to keep strengthening it and getting it ready. I can’t wait to get to Oakland and go to work.
Joseph is the first West Virginia defensive back to be drafted in the first round since Bengals cornerback Adam Jones in 2005, and the first safety to be drafted by Oakland on the first day since Michael Huff in 2006.
“Some people just get the hitting ability, but I think I can do it all. I think I’m the most versatile safety in this class, and I’m so happy the Raiders took a chance on me.”
Joseph promised the coaches that they won’t regret picking him, and though other top prospects recovering from injury in the current draft — Jaylon Smith and Myles Jack in particular — didn’t hear their names called, the Raiders medical staff gave the thumbs up to draft him.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Raiders football.