Detroit Lions add underrated safety Kerby Joseph late in third round

Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports /

Late in the third round at pick No. 97, the Detroit Lions addressed their need at safety with the underappreciated Kerby Joseph.

After moving up to take Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams in the first round, it’s become a defensive draft for the Detroit Lions. Late in the third round, at pick No. 97, the Lions added Illinoi safety Kerby Joseph.

Joseph started his college career as a wide receiver. In 2021, settled in as a safety, he had a breakout season with 57 total tackles, five interceptions,two pass breakups and three fumble recoveries. Pro Football Focus graded him as their No. 1 defensive back in the country during the regular season.

The Lions reflected their interest by having Joseph in for a top-30 visit.

The Lions re-signed Tracy Walker this offseason, and they signed DeShon Elliott to add an interesting option for the other starting safety spot. But it was still likely the draft would bring a safety into the mix if there was a good opportunity, and with their final pick of Day 2 the Lions took the opportunity to draft Joseph.

Kerby Joseph has the look of a potential draft steal for the Lions

As good as he was last year, Joseph started just that one full season at safety for the Fighting Illini. So he could be regarded as somewhat raw, with untapped potential to be unlocked as he heads to the next level.

Analysts have pointed to Joseph as a great fit for a split-safety scheme like the one Lions’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn runs, where he can play further away from the line of scrimmage and be something of a ballhawk in a Detroit secondary that needs more of that type. That fit surely drove interest, and Joseph was always a likely Day 2 pick.

The Lions will now have a long wait before their next pick, as they’re next slated to go on the clock at No. 177 late in the fifth round on Saturday. Picks No. 181 and 217 in the sixth round will wrap up their 2022 draft picks, barring any trades.

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