Kelvin Joseph is likely to be the youngest player on the Dallas Cowboys roster this season, and his maturity was something that teams made him answer for in their pre-draft evaluations. Apparently, his answers were good enough for the Cowboys, who used their 44th overall pick to select him.
The cornerback will still be 20-years-old in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season, and it was just a little over two years ago that the LSU Tigers suspended Joseph before their 2019 Fiesta Bowl matchup with UCF for violating team rules. That July he would transfer to University of Kentucky, where he would blossom into an evident defensive talent in 2020 before opting out of the final game of the season with the Wildcats in order to prepare for the NFL Draft.
"I talked with the Cowboys a lot in the process of my evaluation from the coaches to the owner," Joseph said to the media moments after being drafted on Friday. "They wanted to learn everything about me. I told them everything going on with me."
Perhaps coming up in those conversations was his fairly prolific rap career under the pseudonym "YKDV Bossman Fat." Joseph said that he was born at 10 pounds resulting in his family nicknaming him "Fat," and he applied it to his own moniker in middle school. According to him, his musical career was a popular topic of conversation in his pre-draft interviews, but he didn't seem to entertain the notion that it was a distraction from football.
"Throughout this process there were people questioning [me] about rap," Joseph said. "But this is what I've been doing my whole life. I haven't been practicing and sweating and bleeding [in the game of football] for no reason. This is what I'm going to do to feed my family."
Joseph was also transparent that he addressed the concerns with the Cowboys about his transfer from LSU following his suspension. He maintained that he transferred to Kentucky in order to get "more exposure," but also noted that he publicly apologized to his teammates at LSU for having to miss their bowl game and that he prioritized learning from the mistake.
It seems that Joseph didn't attempt to dodge or make excuses for off-the-field questions coming into the draft. Whether that resonated with the Cowboys more than it did other teams, he certainly fills a giant need on their roster, and his talent seemed apparent enough for them to make a large investment in him.
"The Cowboys are gonna get a playmaker," Joseph promised the media on Friday. He called himself a "smart player" who is "ready to take the team to another level."
He also advised Cowboy fans to look to his matchup with Alabama's Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith, who the Eagles selected with their first round pick on Thursday. Joseph covered Smith about as well as any cornerback in college football did last season and he even stuck with him on a go-route in which he intercepted Patriots' first-round pick Mac Jones, who was targeting Smith.
Last season, the Cowboys used their second-round draft pick on Alabama's Trevon Diggs, who rewarded them by being a starting cornerback as a rookie, and Joseph said he's excited to be on the field with him.
"I feel like we could do a lot of damage going against opponents," he said. "We're both playmakers."
Asking an even younger rookie than Diggs to start on the other side of the field of last year's rookie is a tall task, but the Cowboys took a chance on Joseph when it seems a lot of teams put question marks next to his name, and it sounds like he wants to start proving them right sooner than later.
"I'm ready to get to work."