Raiders needed a safety more than any other position. They got the best one in this draft.
Analysts said safeties weren’t worthy of the No. 14 overall selection, that one could be had lower in the first round and into the second. Joseph was talented enough for that spot, but a torn ACL added question marks to his draft status.
Not for Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie. He took the player he wanted, the player he needed at his assigned slot.
“We loved Karl Joseph from Day One,” McKenzie said. “We were happy to get him when he came to No. 14.”
The Raiders pondered the possibility of him lower. One source said the Raiders hoped to trade out of the 14th slot, but nothing materialized to McKenzie’s satisfaction.
“If anything would’ve come up, I would’ve entertained it,” McKenzie said. “In the end, I was just happy we got him. Where I got him wouldn’t have mattered. He was the 14th pick and we’re happy he’s with us.”
There’s no doubting Joseph is a first-round talent and easily the top all-around safety in this class. His knee injury was expected to impact his draft status, a fact Joseph feared.
When his phone rang in the middle of the first round informing him he was a Raider, a great weight was lifted.
“I was worried about my knee,” Joseph said. “As a competitor, it hurt not being able to compete at the combine and things like that. … It’s great to see that, even with the injury, the Raiders gave me an opportunity.”
The Raiders examined Joseph’s knee closely at the NFL Scouting Combine, and McKenzie saw Joseph in person at West Virginia’s pro day. Joseph’s knee checked out, leaving little question they wanted this safety on the roster.
“The medicals were fine. He’s going to be ready to roll,” McKenzie said. “Our doctors gave us a thumb’s up (during the pre-draft process).
“We’ll let him come here and let the doctors determine how much he can do and to what level. I don’t know when they’ll clear him, but the prognosis is good. He’ll be ready to play this year.”
Joseph said he would be ready for training camp. It’s highly unlikely he will be available for the Raiders offseason program. He will report to the team’s Alameda facility for the first time before the Raiders’ rookie minicamp.
"I've been running and doing some light cutting and change of direction," Joseph said. "It's been a tough month with all the traveling (for pre-draft workouts and visits), and I haven't been able to focus very hard on my rehab. Now I'm going to get back into it and put all my focus into rehab and making sure I'm ready to go by training camp."