Could Chicago Bears select this local prospect in 2022 NFL draft?

Chicago Bears (Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bears (Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports) /
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The Chicago Bears brought in Kerby Joseph to the facility for a pre-drat visit. Because Joseph went to a local school, the Bears have an unlimited number of visits they can extend to Illinois players, and he does not count against the 30 visits the Bears are allowed to have.

Still, the team will only host 30 or so players before the draft, and these are the players that the team wants to meet, and see how they fit in the building. Considering they are using the time and resources to host Kerby Joseph, it is worth wondering what the interest level is.

Kerby Joseph Statistical and athletic profile

Below you can see his statistics during his four-year career at Illinois. He did not start until his last season, but he did get action in each of four seasons. Still, it was the 2021 campaign when he became a starter and picked off five passes when he started to get noticed.

Defense & Fumbles Table
Tack Tack Tack Tack Tack Def Def Fumb Fumb
Year School G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int PD FR FF
2018 Illinois 8 9 1 10 0.0 0.0 0 1 0 1
*2019 Illinois 5 13 17 30 1.0 0.0 0 3 0 0
2020 Illinois 6 12 7 19 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
2021 Illinois 12 41 16 57 1.0 1.0 5 2 2 0
Career Illinois 75 41 116 2.0 1.0 5 6 2 1

According to Pro Football Focus Kerby Joseph lined up deep on 440 snaps. He was in the box for 164 snaps, and right on the line of scrimmage as a blitzer on 41 snaps. Joseph also spent seven snaps out wide, and 64 snaps in the slot. Overall, he was used as a free safety in the center field type role.

Below you can see how Kerby Joseph appears from a physical and athletic perspective thanks to MockDraftable.

He may be a bit light, but that is not much of a concern, especially because he is above average in height and elite in his length and wingspan.

Joseph did not do many drills at the NFL combine, but did do the jumps, and showed his explosive ability by posting above-average jumps. Overall you would like to see the long speed and change of direction get tested in these drills, but Joseph has the length and explosion that you want from a safety.

Where Kerby Joseph can win in the NFL

The explosive ability showed for Joseph, especially in his interception reel. He was able to spring into action as the last line of defense. Joseph was swift and quick as a mover and was able to make up and ground and cut off space that quarterbacks thought that they saw.

This also showed as he worked downhill and closed gaps faster than running backs anticipated. Joseph is fast against the run, but also stays gap discipline and does not let things get outside. His ability to make plays on the football and stay in line as a run stopper gives the upside of a versatile safety who can help in many ways.

Questions on Kerby Joseph in his transition to the NFL

Illinois is a Big 10 school, but not a powerhouse, so it is concerning it took an injury during his last year to really ascend into a starting role. While he was able to jump routes and use his make-up speed, at times he was hit or miss, or it looked as though he was guessing rather than reading. It can work in his favor, but if he gets caught out of place in the NFL he will get picked on.

There is a question as to his exact role considering he never really played in the box, but his coverage instincts were not perfect. Still, his athleticism and ball skills in coverage do add intrigue to drafting him and letting him play in a 2-high scheme.