The Eagles secondary is a concern. It may have only been one game without Rodney McLeod, but it’s impossible to deny that his absence will be a major loss.
With the mediocre Jalen Mills already causing an ulcer for Eagle fans, why should we expect that increased snaps for players already behind him on the depth chart—Avonte Maddox and Rasul Douglas—would produce any better results?
If the front office and coaching staff decide to look for outside help to solve our secondary troubles they should consider calling up Chucky and the Raiders to inquire about safety Karl Joseph.
While I wouldn’t say Joseph is in Gruden’s doghouse, he’s clearly fallen out of favor with the coach, who has shown little hesitation to trade away young former first round picks if they don’t see things his way—and that’s how I would characterize Joseph.
As a starter for the Raiders in each of the last two seasons, he saw the field on over 80% of defensive snaps in games he appeared in. This season, Joseph played just 11 snaps over the first three weeks, and was inactive for week 4.
A West Virginia product, Joseph was the 14th overall pick in 2016 and subsequently won a starting safety job early in his rookie season (from Nate Allen, ironically). He earned All-Rookie honors and had a similarly productive season in year two. Here are the numbers:
Pro Football Focus gave him a position grade of 75.5 as a rookie and 80.8 in the following season. For comparisons sake, McLeod earned a grade of 79.4 last season.
Here are the rest of McLeod’s numbers:
The only real difference between the two is the 6 interceptions (over the past two seasons) for McLeod, compared to the 2 for Joseph.
Those numbers don’t paint an accurate picture, however, as Joseph is more than a capable ball hawk. The lack of production in that department can be chalked up to positional differences; while McLeod has created a void at free safety, Joseph has spent the majority of his career at strong safety—roaming closer to the line of scrimmage than McLeod.
But make no mistake about it, Joseph has the versatility to play both safety spots. Coming out of college, he was highly touted for his ability to cover man-to-man, play physical in the box, and also having the speed to play center field—again, the general role that McLeod has left vacant.
It’s clear that Joseph no longer fits in the Raiders long term plans, the only question is if they view him as expendable from a depth perspective. Having played just 11 snaps through a quarter of the season, I’m fairly confident that he can be had for the right price if Howie and Doug are motivated to make a move.