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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: CB Kelvin Joseph

  • The Draft Network
  • January 19, 2021
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Kelvin Joseph is a long perimeter cornerback prospect who should have the opportunity to develop into a starting outside option for a team. Joseph, who was an early entree into the 2021 NFL Draft, has the kind of length that is very popular right now in the NFL game and has been exposed to a number of different roles throughout the course of his career. He was charged with periodically following Florida TE Kyle Pitts but also has played deep third coverage against some of the more prominent offenses on the Wildcats' schedule—including Alabama. Joseph enjoyed a fruitful season at Kentucky and found the football on a number of occasions, illustrating down-the-field ball skills and effective contesting ability at the catch point. A former LSU Tiger, Joseph has about as slim of a resume as you can get; he played nine games for the Wildcats in 2020 after sitting out the 2019 season on account of transferring in from LSU and will take his talent to the pro game with just 20 total games played at the college level. Because of his inexperience, expect sporadic results in coverage and inconsistent recognition skills until he’s able to allocate more reps and increase his route combination awareness and add more polish to his technique. I wouldn’t endorse an early role, but the three-year projection looks much more favorable than the one-year forecast in 2021. 

Ideal Role: Developmental starting outside cornerback.

Scheme Fit: C-3 or Quarters coverage frequency in zone. Can play press-man coverage for more aggressive defenses as well. 


Written by: Kyle Crabbs

Games watched: Alabama (2020), Tennessee (2020), Florida (2020)

Best Game Studied: Tennessee (2020)

Worst Game Studied: Florida (2020)

Man Coverage Skills: I’m not overly eager to put him on the line of scrimmage and press with frequency, as his polish in press is going to need a little more patience. He’s physically capable but most of his best reps came off the ball, so any team that anticipates working him physically on the LOS better be willing to take their lumps or let him redshirt.

Zone Coverage Skills: Deep third coverage is where he’s best. He’ll drop off the LOS and shows good patience to not bail too quickly before sticking his foot in the ground to click and close. He shows good range to buzz against multiple vertical stems and be able to challenge the catch point. If he’s high-lowed he’ll find more conflict and he’ll be more ready to sag and protect vertically and give up underneath, as he’s not the most springy due to high hips and frame. 

Ball Skills: This was one of his brightest areas in 2020. Joseph showed the ability to identify the football late and has great length and extension skills to catch the ball away from his frame. Showed some softness in his hands and good concentration at the catch point to not be distracted as he’s finishing his challenges of the ball. He did well to convert into the receiver when tested deep and took very good angles to charge at underneath targets to his side of the field. 

Tackling: His tackle radius is large thanks to his length and ability to lean into challenges, but in head-up scenarios he currently isn’t going to offer you consistency. Will needed added focus on bringing the feet through contact and keeping his eyes up. I didn’t see a great appetite here. 

Versatility: I do think he can play in either man- or zone-heavy concepts, but I like him best in deep third or deep quarter and triggering on action in front of his face. He can play physical at the line of scrimmage, but more often than not when I studied him he played with cushion instead of being charged with turn and run responsibilities. 

Competitive Toughness: There’s plenty of scrap on route stems and he’s persistently hand fighting down the field to prevent receivers from stacking him cleanly. As a result, he’s handled vertical challenges well and even claimed several wins on vertical shots against DeVonta Smith that offered impressive glimpses of who he can become. 

Functional Athleticism: I didn’t see a glaring amount of stiffness but his half-turns and transitions aren’t overly dynamic at this point in time. He can stay sticky stride for stride down the field thanks to his length and feeling route alterations developing while he’s opened up his stride. 

Football IQ: He’s likable but he’s also very raw. There’s natural feel for locating the football and his ball skills are developed beyond what you’d expect given his resume as a player at this level of competition. Anticipation in soft coverage is strong to jump on quick game (Tennessee 2020) but teams who flood zones will find opportunities to manipulate him with the first color to flash and open bigger throwing windows. 

Run Defending: He can be late to identify opportunities to work his head around and locate the run. When he does step up, he’s calculated and backs will take advantage to press for extra yardage along the sideline. He’s high-hipped and lean, so his finishing skills near the LOS or to get off of blocks isn’t going to jump off the screen at you and he needs more assertiveness to beat blockers to a spot to avoid getting stuck. 

Length: Prototypical length and reach offers him a large influence to disrupt inside the contact window. Joseph has successfully knocked around receivers at the catch point and his hand fighting will do well disrupt the timing of routes and allow him to squeeze receivers into the boundary. This is his best trait entering the league. 

Prospect Comparison: Lonnie Johnson (2019 NFL Draft, Houston Texans)


TDN Consensus: 74.50/100

Joe Marino: 77.00/100

Kyle Crabbs: 73.00/100

Jordan Reid: 77.00/100

Drae Harris: 71.00/100

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