4. Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois
The three previous players on our list all contributed to programs with track records of success. Our last entry, Kerby Joseph, took a different path to get here.
A former three-star recruit out of the Orlando area, Joseph’s play has stood out despite a lack of team success for the Illinois program. In his final season at the college level, he earned All-Big Ten first-team status and was the highest-graded defensive back in the country by Pro Football Focus during the regular season.
In coverage, he is fluid in space and uses his length and massive hands to create havoc at the catch point. His relative lack of experience as a full-time starter shows up sometimes, but Joseph can be an instinctive player when he trusts his eyes and is proactive.
Joseph must speed up his processing against the run and improve as a tackler to maximize his talents. He is much more comfortable when perched deep in the secondary than when in the box.
Overall, Joseph may lack the physicality for the box, but he can be an effective security blanket and make plays from single-high and split-safety alignments.