West Virginia safety Karl Joseph makes sense for the Washington Redskins, who haven't drafted a safety before the fourth round since LaRon Landry in 2007. That's why I picked Joseph in the NFL Nation mock draft. Thing is, that’s not where I think he ends up.
The reality for the Redskins when it came to our mock draft is this: My top choice was unavailable. So I went with a guy who would fit a need, who fits the description of players they want to add to their roster. I went with Joseph.
Actually, my top choice was trading back. As much as I like Joseph, it might have been a bit high for him given his health. If the Redskins trade back, get more picks and he’s still around? Then, sure, Joseph remains an option -- and would be a solid choice.
The problem: The torn ACL in his knee, which could make him fall further than the 21st pick. But there were definitely teams who say they still like him even with the knee issue -- one NFL defensive coach said he did not think Joseph would fall out of the first round. That’s how much he liked him. In fact, this same coach two weeks ago predicted he wouldn’t even get to 21. I don’t know if that’s the case, but the point is some teams really like him.
However, the reality is that Washington loves the defensive depth in this draft -- and the Redskins want to add more picks. It’s the smart thing to do, and in the end it’s what I believe they will do -- even if Joseph is at that spot.
Joseph is a terrific safety and I really like his game; the Redskins like him, too. He’s a smart player, tough and competitive. He’s a leader. He fits the Scot McCloughan mold. But is taking him worth bypassing the opportunity to add more picks? No. Are there other safeties they could take that would be good? Sure. If you want a big-hitting type, Florida’s Keanu Neal is an option. Neal and Louisiana Tech defensive lineman Vernon Butler could be two guys teams like more than the mock drafts.
This draft is deep with defensive players; some around the league whom I’ve talked to view this as one of the best in a long time in terms of depth. There are quality defensive linemen to be had into the fourth and fifth rounds. If you’re a team trying to add youth and depth to your defense, this is absolutely the best spring for you.
Here’s the thing, though. Trading back and adding picks also enables the Redskins to perhaps do something they wouldn’t have done otherwise in the first round. I know there’s some who predicted Alabama center Ryan Kelly to the Redskins, but I also know that they still want to try Spencer Long at center so they don’t have to draft one. They have faith in what Long can do combined with the coaching of Bill Callahan. Long was a third-round pick two years ago who improved last season at guard. I'd rather try him at center than, say, pick one in the third round (Kelly would obviously go late first or early second).
The Redskins need to repair their defense. I love the line depth, but I don’t know if there’s a lineman I love at 21. So the key for this draft from Washington: Get more picks. The Redskins’ defense has not been a legitimate top-10 unit since 2008. They have a chance to add some quality players who could help form a lasting defensive nucleus. If Joseph is part of that group, I would like it because I like his talent and think his energy is infectious. But the Redskins need to do what they can to try and trade back, even if that means passing up what could be a solid player.