Lions safety Kerby Joseph garners acknowledgment as a breakout candidate

Things may come together better than they have thus far for Kerby Joseph this year, so he's been tabbed as a breakout candidate.
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However raw he was, after having played just one season exclusively as a defensive back in college, Kerby Joseph entered the NFL regarded as a bit of a ballhawk after five interceptions during that final season at Illinois.

He proved that notion with four interceptions as a rookie, over 17 games, and four more interceptions last year over 15 games as he apparently dealt with a hip issue after missing those couple games early in the season with it. Interception droughts don't last when someone has a nose for the ball, and Joseph had apparently garnered respect around the league after his rookie season.

Joseph had matching tackle totals over his first two seasons (82), with 11 pass breakups last year after registering eight pass breakups as a rookie. His Pro Football Focus grades were where his drop-off was last year, other than a 72.6 run defense grade.

Kerby Joseph makes All-Breakout Team

Joseph's passer ratings allowed were better last year than they were during his rookie season, whichever source that's cited (PFF or Pro Football Reference). In naming him to an All-Breakout Team for this year, Josh Edwards of CBS Sports noted another coverage/passer rating metric for Josesh from last year.

"TruMedia has a metric that measures the passer rating by opposing quarterbacks against coverage players; Joseph ranked third last season (28.0).... Joseph had four interceptions last season, but, with improved talent around him, the Illinois product has the opportunity to put himself in Pro Bowl and All-Pro consideration."

It's absolutely true the Lions' upgrades at cornerback this offseason stand to make Joseph's life a lot easier this season. Per NFL analyst Doug Farrar, with the core source unclear, his 833 snaps lined up as a high safety last year were ninth-most in the league.

If the Lions' pass rush is better/more diversified this year, and the cornerbacks are covering tighter, the volume of hurried and imperfect throws from opposing quarterbacks will increase. Combine that with his tendencies as a ballhawk, and Joseph could have a full-on breakout with a pile of interceptions.


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