The Dallas Cowboys‘ 2021 draft will always be regarded as a huge success regardless of how many players from the class pan out. You buy yourself that kind of cushion when you take a generational talent in Micah Parsons in the first round.
After a one-year sample size, the class admittedly pales in comparison to the Cowboys’ 2020 draft, when they netted CeeDee Lamb and Trevon Diggs with their first two picks. Additionally, third-round selection Neville Gallimore has shown (when healthy) that he can be a staple in the defensive line rotation.
Getting back to the 2021 class, Dallas is hopeful second-round pick Kelvin Joseph bounces back in Year 2 after an injury-plagued rookie season.
Joseph is currently weathering some off-field troubles, but they aren’t enough to stop Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner from listing the former Kentucky standout as one of his 15 breakout candidates among second-year players.
PFF thinks Cowboys CB Kelvin Joseph could break out in 2022.
Here’s what Renner said of Joseph’s breakout potential:
It took Joseph a while to see the field as a rookie in 2021, but it was worth the wait. On only 97 coverage snaps, he allowed seven catches on 15 targets for 49 yards with two pass breakups.
What makes Joseph all the more intriguing is the unknown. He played all of 757 snaps for his entire collegiate career. A top recruit in Louisiana, Joseph started at LSU and played 222 snaps in 2018 before being suspended for the Tigers’ bowl game and subsequently transferring. He landed at Kentucky, where he allowed only 271 yards in his lone season with the team.
As one of the youngest players in the 2021 draft class, Joseph won’t turn 22 until November. All that suggests his arrow should still be pointed upward.
Renner makes some strong points. Any chance Joseph had of seeing meaningful snaps as a rookie ended when he suffered a groin injury late in the preseason. With the starting spots locked up in the form of Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis, Joseph’s injury really put him behind the eight ball in Year 1.
Joseph returned to the lineup in Week 7, but played predominantly on special teams before he was unleashed on defense for the final three regular-season games, when the Cowboys already had the NFC East locked up.
Still, these were important snaps for Joseph, who matched up against Eagles receiver DeVonta Smith in Week 18. For the season (97 coverage snaps), Joseph allowed just a 54.7 passer rating and produced a 73.0 coverage grade.
Unfortunately for Joseph, his status for 2022 is currently murky after he was identified as a person of interest in a drive-by homicide in Dallas. While he wasn’t arrested, you can’t rule out the NFL making an example out of the second-year corner and suspending him a few games.
Assuming any potential punishment isn’t too severe, it’s easy to see why PFF is high on Joseph’s outlook for 2022.