Kerby Joseph lauded, snubbed in separate rankings of NFL safeties

Positional rankings are inherently subjective, but there's quite a difference with where Lions' safety Kerby Joseph lands in two site's rankings.
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

After he nabbed four interceptions as a rookie in 2022, it became clear the word was out about Kerby Joseph last year. He went without an interception until Week 8, as then-defensive backs coach Brian Duker noted that teams may not have been throwing over the middle against the Lions as much out of respect for the ball-hawking safety.

Joseph followed that Week 8 interception with another one in Week 9. He ended up with four interceptions again last year, along with 11 pass breakups and 82 total tackles (the same tackle total as his rookie season).

Overall, without the headline-making interceptions of Aaron Rodgers he had as a rookie, it feels like Joseph was less impactful last season. But his passer rating and completion rate allowed in his coverage, wherever you look for that, was better last year than it was as a rookie.

However it can be sliced, Joseph has some place among the best young safeties in the NFL, if not the best safeties overall in the league.

There's quite a difference in Kerby Joseph's place in a couple safety rankings

Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire recently ranked the NFL's 11 best safeties. Joseph came in at No. 6.

"That’s when (last year) he had one tackle for loss, 81 solo tackles, 10 stops, and one quarterback pressure. In coverage, where his value was most readily apparent, Joseph allowed 34 catches on 60 targets for 512 yards, 245 yards after the catch, no touchdowns, four interceptions, 13 pass breakups, and an opponent passer rating of 57.1."

The coverage numbers Farrar cited for Joseph from last year are from Pro Football Focus. So it stands to reason PFF would similarly laud Joseph in their own safety rankings, right?

Not so fast.

Zoltan Buday of PFF recently ranked the top-32 safeties in the NFL. Joseph is nowhere to be found on the list. A snub? Or just a sheer oversight or omission? It certainly isn't based on surface stats from 2023 compared to some who made the list, as Woodward Sports compiled.

It's worth mentioning that Joseph's overall PFF dropped to 56.5 (83rd among 95 qualifying safeties) from 64.0 (53rd among 88 qualifiers) during his rookie season. So that surely led to him falling by the wayside in PFF's position rankings, with a big drops in his coverage and tackling grades year over year.

Joseph missed two games early last season with a hip injury, and based on needing offseason surgery it was clearly a lingering issue the rest of the season. So maybe that led to PFF's less than shining assessment of his play in some areas, and thus his snub from their safety rankings.

It still funny how one site considers Joseph a top-10 safety in the league, while another doesn't have him in their top 32 at the position. The truth may be somewhere in the middle, maybe toward the higher end?, but it's a notable difference that's hard to ignore.