Athletic Defender Hyped Lions’ ‘Surprise Impact Rookie’ for 2022

Kerby Joseph

Getty Kerby Joseph celebrates with an Illinois teammate in 2021.

The Detroit Lions focused on their defense with many selections in the 2022 NFL draft and for good reason. That group struggled last season and lacked key depth. The good news? Some new rookie players might be primed to step in right away.

While the league had plenty of intriguing players selected, not all of them will be able to make a fast impact on their new teams. Fortunately for Detroit, they have a guy many see as being able to do that.

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Recently, Bleacher Report and writer Alex Ballentine took a look at picking some surprise impact rookies for 2022, and interestingly enough, safety Kerby Joseph was on the list. This was in spite of Joseph being a bit raw on the defensive side, but Ballentine identified a key trait that Joseph has in his ability to play the deep ball. That could allow him to come up and impress when he does get on the field.

As Ballentine wrote, “Will Harris, who ranked 91st out of 92 qualifying safeties by Pro Football Focus last season, could be Joseph’s primary competition to play deep safety.”

If that is the case, Joseph could impress if and when he sees the field. Harris has been a mixed bag at safety, so this could be the key to the rookie making a fast impact. With his athleticism, it might not take long for this to play out.

What Joseph’s Role Could Look Like With Lions

Joseph is a solid athlete, and that is reflected in the fact that he played wide receiver before playing safety and did double duty while in college. That experience helped hone his focus coming into the NFL, where now, Joseph is a player who has a home on defense and has developed enough to play there. Fortunately for Joseph, he may have more time to hone his skills in the league and learn the defense before being cut loose. While many see Joseph as having a shot to make a fast impact, the Lions could choose to play it safe with him and bring him along slowly. DeShon Elliott could start opposite Tracy Walker and give Joseph time to get up to NFL speed. Joseph, as Ballentine surmises, could spell Elliott and see some run in terms of the long game on the back end.

Regardless of what happens, it’s wise to expect the Lions to test out Joseph and give him plenty of run early on in Detroit.

Joseph’s College Stats & Highlights

It’s not all just flash with Joseph, though. The safety has a lot of substance to his game as well, statistically and otherwise. Quickly, Joseph has been able to produce some numbers which show him as a major ballhawk. That is a trait which figures to serve him well once he comes into the league. Joseph has 116 tackles, 5 interceptions, 6 passes defended and 1 forced fumble. Most of that production came in his senior year.

Here’s a look at some of his best plays with the Fighting Illini in college:

VideoVideo related to athletic defender hyped lions’ ‘surprise impact rookie’ for 20222022-05-18T09:28:18-04:00

Joseph will make his transition into the NFL with a great chance to step up and become a major difference maker. His athleticism and quality traits on the field could help him become a player who sees the field fast for Detroit and makes a big impact when he does.

If it happens, everyone can remember how the shot was called way back in May by Bleacher Report.

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