Remember when cornerback Kelvin Joseph decided not to play in Kentucky’s final regular-season game or the bowl game to start getting ready for the NFL draft?
Looks like he might have known exactly what he was doing.
After seeing him being projected as a likely middle round pick by several NFL draft analysts, Joseph’s stock suddenly is on a meteoric rise thanks to ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper.
He now has Joseph, who played only one season at UK after sitting out in 2019 after transferring from LSU, projected as the No. 4 cornerback in the upcoming draft. He described him as one of the “biggest risers” in the draft.
Joseph had four interceptions in 2020, including one he returned for a touchdown in the win at Tennessee. That ranked eighth nationally and second in the SEC. He also had 25 tackles.
“He has ball skills and instincts to cut off passes and he’s tough in the run game, too. Joseph has all the tools to be a great pro,” Kiper said.
Kentucky has had two first-round draft picks in the last six years — Bud Dupree at No. 22 in 2015 and Josh Allen at No. 7 in 2019. Kiper has Joseph projected 25th.
Joseph’s best game may have been in UK’s loss at Alabama when the Crimson Tide only targeted Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith twice when he was covered by Joseph. One deep pass was overthrown due to Joseph’s coverage and the second was intercepted by Joseph near the goal line.
Former all-SEC running back Anthony White admitted don WLAP Sunday Morning Sports that he was not a “huge fan” of Kiper and says he has “hits and misses” on his draft picks.
“He (Joseph) has good ball skills. He has good hips and seems to have pretty good speed,” White said. “It comes down to how he changes direction. But the one thing they love in the NFL are ball skills. He has shown he can flip the chains and he will go up and get the ball.
“I assume Mel thinks he will run (the 40-yard dash) in 4.3 or 4.4 (seconds). He has all the ball skills. I just don’t know for sure about his speed.”
There were times Joseph’s “body language and actions” were not the best during the season. White said that does not “bode well” with some NFL personnel.
“They will have questions about that but if he runs a 4.3, then somebody will take the risk in the first round,” White said. “If he goes high 4.4 or even 4.5, then stuff about why he decided to sit out the last two games and other things will come into play.”