Round 6: Dubuque CB Michael Joseph – 6-1, 181 – 4.49 – Senior
Previous pick: Clemson LB Dorian O’Daniel
Like Southern cornerback Danny Johnson, Joseph used the Senior Bowl to show that he can play at an elite level after dominating small school competition. What’s amazing about Joseph is that he never started a game in high school and yet wound up with 15 career interceptions at Dubuque, including eight during his senior season – two if which were returned for touchdowns.
Joseph was the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletics Conference Most Valuable Player in 2017, and also won the Cliff Harris Award, which is given annually to the Small College Defensive Player of the Year for Division III football. That led to his Senior Bowl invitation where he performed well in practice.
What Joseph has is desired size and arm length, along with athletic ability and ball skills. At 6-foot-1 he’s one of the taller cornerbacks in the 2018 draft class and has enough size to be a good hitter in run support. What Joseph lacks is facing NFL-caliber competition outside of the Senior Bowl. He will need good coaching to overcome some bad habits, such as biting on double moves and head fakes because of his lack of patience.
Joseph’s Dubuque Career Defensive Stats
2017: 56 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 16 PBUs, 8 INTs, 5 sacks, 2 TDs, 2 FR
2016: 68 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 8 PBU, 4 INTs, 1 sack, 1 blocked kick, 1 TD
2015: 42 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 7 PBUs 3 INTs, 1 FF
2014: 27 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack
Joseph’s Dubuque Career Kick Return Stats
2017: 1 kick return for a 96-yard TD
Tampa Bay closely watched Joseph’s Senior Bowl practices and saw a raw cover corner with ideal athleticism. The Bucs’ cornerbacks lack length outside of 6-foot Ryan Smith, and adding a longer player like Joseph could help against the bigger wide receivers Tampa Bay faces in the NFC South.
Joseph will need some time to develop, but doesn’t lack much confidence. He didn’t run at the NFL Scouting Combine and his pro day is scheduled for March 26 at Iowa, but he claims he has been timed under 4.5, which would make him one of the faster cornerbacks in this draft class. Joseph played on special teams coverage units, but only had one return, which was a 96-yard kick return for a touchdown during his senior year. Because he’s a bit of a project, Joseph would have to make his mark on special teams in Tampa Bay as a rookie.