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WVU safety Karl Joseph's high football character could interest Redskins

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WVU safety Karl Joseph's high football character could interest Redskins

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 34 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players Scot McCloughan will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how he might fit in Washington.

Karl Joseph
Safety
West Virginia

Height: 5-10
Weight: 205
40-yard dash: --

Projected draft round: 2-3

What they’re saying
Fiercely competitive with immense football character. Different teams may have differing opinions of how best to utilize him, but Joseph has proven he can make plays in man coverage or play disciplined enough to be trusted on the back. His average size and subsequent durability will concern some teams due to his aggressive, attacking demeanor; however, Joseph is talented enough to become an early starter and high-impact safety down the road if the medicals check out.
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: I don’t think I have to go into much detail about the Redskins’ need at safety, which is entering its 10th year. Earlier this week Jay Gruden called it an area of "great concern". They are taking a safety by committee approach right now but they would like to solidify the position and Joseph could be the guy to do that.

When you see the words “immense football character” in the evaluation above, you immediately think of the kind of player that Scot McCloughan likes to collect. Joseph graduated from high school early and enrolled at West Virginia so he could participate in spring practice. He won the starting job and as a true freshman he was the Mountaineers’ defensive player of the year with 104 tackles, seven for loss, two interceptions, and three forced fumbles.

He could have entered the 2015 draft but he decided to stay. His “reward” was a season-ending knee injury he suffered in a non-contact portion of practice.

The injury deprived West Virginia of plays like this one:

Potential issues: Obviously the knee will have to check out. Joseph did not participate in any combine drills, certainly understandable after having suffered the injury in early October. It seems reasonable that he could be ready for training camp, which would start almost 10 months after the injury.

At 5-10, 205, his size is another concern. McCloughan would probably prefer a safety with more length. And there are legitimate concerns that the impact of his hard hits could shorten his career.

Bottom line: Mike Mayock called Joseph a “poor man’s Earl Thomas” and we know how McCloughan likes Legion of Boom style defensive backs. If his knee checks out the presence of a high-character top performer at a position of need would put him under serious consideration by McCloughan if he’s there in the second round. If he is there in the third you could probably measure him for a Redskins uniform.

But with the need for safeties outstripping the supply, the chances that Joseph will make it to the latter stages of the second round seem iffy. We will see how things shake out.

Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.

In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.

Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.

What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games. 

The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.

As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.

The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.