For several years now, the Detroit Lions have been seeking a safety who can not only play alongside Tracy Walker, but complement his skillset as well. For whatever reason, Detroit seemed averse to spending a lot of resources on the position, typically deciding to pass on the draft entirely and fill the spot with an aging veteran.
General manager Brad Holmes finally bucked that trend this year by selecting Illinois safety Kerby Joseph late in the third round.
Joseph is still a very raw talent, having only started a single season for the Illini over four years. So to expect Joseph to come in right away and win the starting job away from someone like DeShon Elliott, Will Harris or maybe even Ifeatu Melifonwu seems a tad too optimistic.
However, Lions fans should not be surprised if Joseph—at the very least—carves out a subpackage role for himself as early as Year 2. On Thursday, Joseph was already getting second-team reps with the safeties (thanks, in part, to Ifeatu Melifonwu being sidelined) and he notched an impressive, instinctive interception from Tim Boyle.
Later that day, Illinois beat writer Bob Asmussen from the Champaign News-Gazette joined our podcast to explain his expectations for Joseph at the professional level. For a guy who battled for years at Illinois to find the field—going through positional changes and coaching changes—when he could have easily just transferred someone else, Joseph, Asmussen believes, will weather the NFL storm nicely.
“I like the fact that he hung in there, because he didn’t have to,” Asmussen said. “There were a lot of people transferring after Lovie (Smith) left. He hung around and got better, and that to me is the ultimate sign of what the guy has potentially. He’s still young, not 22 yet. He’s a younger guy, and I think the sky’s the limit for him in terms of what he can do long-term wise.”
You can listen to our conversation with Bob here.