The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used their first-round draft pick (23rd overall) to select Oklahoma guard Davin Joseph.
Although he was pleased to be selected in the first round by the Buccaneers, Saturday was a day of mixed emotions for Joseph, who spent the morning and early part of the afternoon at his best friend's father's funeral.
"His father had a tough time with cancer and passed away yesterday," Joseph said of Mubeen Hamid. "It was a mixed-emtional day. He's not even able to be with me here today, but there's more important things in the world than my draft party I'm having. Because my best friend is down and out right now, and his father is gone. To have this at my house with a lot of family members there, it was a lot fo mixed emotions.
The 6-foot-2, 307-pound Joseph is considered an athletic and versatile offensive lineman. He has seen a significant amount of action at several positions along the offensive line. He started 11 games at left guard, 27 games at right guard and 10 games at left tackle during his four-year collegiate career.
"I think naturally his best position is guard," said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. "He played left tackle at Oklahoma last year out of necessity. They lost a couple of guys to injury and because of his athleticism, he moved out there and got it done, frankly, at left tackle. I see him naturally as an inside player, he is explosive and strong. I think his athletic ability will help him as a puller. We like to do that with our guards. But I think in a pinch situation, if we need him to go out there and play left tackle, he has proven he can do that. If we need him to go out there and play left tackle, I'm sure Davin would be willing to do that. But we pencil him in now at the right guard position, and we're excited about that."
As a senior, Joseph registered a career-high 108 knockdowns and 13 touchdown-resulting blocks as the Sooners' starting left tackle, a position he was moved to due to injuries sustained by players along Oklahoma's offensive line.
A three-year starter, Joseph played with good technique and played extremely disciplined football for the Sooners. He was called for just three penalties in four seasons.
"I'm a consistent player, consistently being an aggressive player," said Joseph. "Even though, pass plays, run plays, everything for me is on the line. I think that's the only way I know how to play. I guess that's why people say I don't play tackle as well as I played guard because I don't play my type of game. I like to play aggressive. I like to play physical, but the main part of my game that I focus the most part on is the mental side, not making mental mistakes and really just trying to aim for that 100 percent mark on my assignments."
Joseph was impressive on tape, but he made an even better impression at the Senior Bowl.
"Just the energy, man," Gruden said of Joseph's performance in Mobile. "Execution and energy. He is to-and-from the huddle and doesn't tire easily. He has great stamina. He is a technician. He very rarely makes mistakes. Those are the things that really appear to me. On the board, he is as sharp as any guy we have ever put up on the chalkboard. He really understands the game. it is important to him. He likes the strategy. I think you will sense that when you meet him when he gets here. He is just a very good pick for our offensive football team and we realize we still have work to do."
In addition to having great character, Joseph possesses several impressive attributes. He bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times and recorded a 32-inch vertical jump at the NFL Combine.
A native of Hallandale, Florida, Joseph is short, but plays with great pad level. Joseph has 35 1/8-inch arm length, which allowed him to pass protect well at the college level. He also was solid as a run blocker for a Sooners offense that averaged 355.1 yards per game in 2005.
"It gives me a really good advantage, especially playing inside," Joseph said of his long arms. "If you can lock out on guys and get them off you, it really helps. These long arms and big hands bailed me out a lot of times.. Being able to really extend and reach and get guys. It will benefit me in the league being that it's just something extra I have."
Although he wasn't projected to go in the first round by most draft pundits, the Bucs believe Joseph would have been a first-round pick on every team's draft board if he hadn't had to play tackle in his senior season. Joseph looks forward to proving he was worth taking in the first round.
"Time will tell whether I was the right guy for that first round pick," said Joseph. "The mock drafts and stuff, I didn't really pay attention to it. I didn't know exactly where I would fall in the draft. But all I knew is I would go in the first day. I knew that I gave my best effort and wherever I end up will be, most likely, the best place for me. So, it just so happened (to be) Tampa Bay, and I'm excited. My folks are excited. My son doesn't quite know what's happened yet. He'll be a Bucs fan before you know it."
Sean Mahan started all 16 regular season games at right guard for the Buccaneers last year, but the team believes his future is at center and viewed the right guard position as one of weakness.
Last year, Tampa Bay's fourth-round pick, G Dan Buenning, started all 16 regular season games at left guard for the Bucs.
Joseph is expected to compete with Mahan, Jeb Terry and Tonui Fonoti for the starting right guard job in training camp and preseason.
"We will decide that in the coming months," said Gruden. "We still have nine picks left in this draft. We might come back here and have another discussion in another few hours, so I am going to be careful with what I say. Obviously, this is just one heck of a football player. He is a great kid. He is a leader at Oklahoma. He is from the state of Florida. He is an energetic, positive, upbeat guy. He has talent. We are very excited to have him. I think at the end of the day, we are going to suit up and start the best five linemen we have."
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