News of the Minnesota Vikings hosting players for their top 30 visits continues to come in as the Houston Chronicle reports that West Virginia safety Karl Joseph had visited multiple teams, including the Vikings.
The Vikings had visited Joseph’s pro day back on April 4 and it appears they liked what they saw. They also had his teammate and fellow safety K.J. Dillon in for a visit earlier this month in their pursuit to find another safety.
Vikings’ needs: Harrison Smith is arguably one of the best safeties in the NFL, but the Vikings haven’t seemed to be able to properly utilize him the past few seasons. His strength comes from his versatility, but Mike Zimmer indicated at the NFL Scouting Combine that Smith has been limited because of their lack of a dependable second safety.
The Vikings re-signed Andrew Sendejo who was a Day 1 starter a year ago for the Vikings, signed free agent Michael Griffin this offseason, and also have Anthony Harris and Antone Exum, who both started games last season, still on their roster. However, it appears the Vikings still are not completely sold that any of these players are a long-term answer.
Measurables: Joseph comes in at 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, which is a little smaller than what teams look for in their starting safety. One thing he does have going for himself, though, is that he has long arms (32 inches) and big hands (just under 10 inches). He was able to do 19 reps of the 225-pound bench press at his pro day, but that was the only drill he was able to participate in because of a torn ACL in his right knee that he suffered in October.
Analysis: Joseph is a hard-hitting safety that plays with little regard for his body, but oddly enough that is not what caused his knee injury. He suffered his injury in a non-contact practice drill, which could end up being a red flag for teams looking to draft him.
When he is healthy and on the field, Joseph is one of the best safeties in this draft class. He has the ability to chase down receivers in the open field, deliver devastating blows and also be a lock-down defender in pass coverage. Joseph recorded five interceptions just four weeks into his senior season, prior to injuring his knee.
The Vikings often struggled to create turnovers last season, so his ability to do so would be welcomed with open arms. His ability to drop back into coverage and consistently break up passes downfield would also be welcomed because it would allow the coaches to move Smith around the field more, utilizing more of his strengths.
Apart from the knee injury, the biggest concern surrounding Joseph is his size. Whatever team drafts him will likely want him to add on more weight, just so his body can keep up with his physical style of play. But, according to draft analysts, he also has the tendency to take too many chances when trying to create a turnover, which could lead to him being out of position from time to time.
Joseph is currently being projected as a second- or third-round pick, but concerns about his knee could cause him to fall. Since the Vikings are not in dire need of a Day 1 starter at their second safety spot, though you can be sure they’d love improved the level of play there, they would not need to have Joseph rush back after his injury.