Get to know Detroit Lions draft pick Kerby Joseph, the top-ranked college DB in 2021

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes walked into the draft room shortly before Friday night turned to Saturday morning and opened with what he says people may think is a cliché.

“We’re thrilled again,” he said. “Not to sound like a broken record, but we literally are.”

One of those reasons is because of No. 97 overall pick, Illinois safety Kerby Joseph. Here are some things to know about the Lions newest defensive back:

HAS A NOSE FOR THE BALL: Kerby Joseph ranked No. 1 by PFF experts: ‘He went off’

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Raw but talented

Joseph started for one year as a defensive player in college football. He spent the early days of his career as a receiver, while frequently playing special teams.

But as a senior, he transitioned to defense. He joked Friday night that he doesn’t have ball skills just because he was a receiver, “I’ve always had those,” he said, but he did say the transition was smooth.

The numbers back it up. Joseph was ranked the No. 1 defensive back in the nation by Pro Football Focus last season, and finished in a tie for the NCAA lead with five interceptions to go with three fumble recoveries.


Kerby Joseph: Production at position of need

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“With Kerby you got a rangy safety that fits our scheme and what we’re looking for,” Holmes said. “It’s probably fair to say we’re a bit better (at safety) … Kerby is going to be a rookie but again I do think the competition is going to be fierce from a depth standpoint.

It’s a party

Joseph isn’t afraid to have fun, that much is clear after one interaction with the media.

The safety from Illinois was with dozens of family members staying in an AirBnB just outside of his hometown Orlando. The environment was so raucous, he needed to go to the garage in order to do his post-draft zoom conference with Detroit reporters.

He said there were about 60 people at the house and that, “the atmosphere is crazy. I got (all these) people going crazy.”

In case you don’t believe him, take a look at the moment it happened for yourself.

Special on special teams

Joseph has done a bit of everything in his career, but said that special teams is one place he fell in love.

He was a standout on that unit in college, playing more than 400 snaps on special teams and starting as a gunner on punt coverage.

His first career tackle as a freshman came on special teams and was responsible for the first points of the 2021 college football season when he recovered a safety after a blocked punt in the season opener against Nebraska.

One of the traits that Holmes and scouts talked about with Joseph was his athleticism — this video of him doing a backflip while wearing crocs backs that up.

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