Round 3, No. 97 overall: Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois
After addressing edge earlier in the draft, the two biggest needs remaining were linebacker and safety. With the compensatory pick they received for losing Kenny Golladay in free agency last year, the Lions grabbed a ball-hawking safety in Joseph.
The Illinois product is someone who the Lions became very familiar with. He was at the Senior Bowl on the opposite roster, he met with the Lions at the combine and Detroit brought him in for a top-30 visit. This was a player they identified as someone they were interested in, and they pulled the trigger at the back end of the third round.
One of the biggest problems for the Lions’ secondary has been producing turnovers (aside from Amani Oruwariye). Joseph excelled in that department last season, with five interceptions. He looks like a good fit for the Lions’ split-zone scheme on the back end who can occasionally play single-high if Glenn wants to move Tracy Walker around.
Joseph won’t necessarily be a Week or 1 starter, although Detroit doesn’t necessarily need him to be. Free agent signee DeShon Elliott is the likely starter opposite Walker right now. Joseph has time to develop as a rookie, and maybe see some time in any three-safety looks Glenn might cook up.
Holmes was probably that much easier to make due to the confidence he has in his coaching staff, primarily Glenn and Aubrey Pleasant, to develop his skillset into exactly what Detroit needs in the secondary. Safety is very important to this Lions defense, so make no mistake they will put in the work to develop Joseph into a quality starter. Just a very solid pick for Detroit that hopefully hits his ceiling.