Role Call: Realistic Expectations For Kelvin Joseph

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(Editor's Note: With the offseason program in the rearview mirror, it's time to look ahead. As part of the preparation for training camp, this series will introduce 25 key players who are new to the Cowboys' roster, rookies and veterans alike. We'll continue the series with cornerback Kelvin Joseph.)

How He Got Here: Joseph had a slightly tumultuous collegiate career, and the Cowboys are hoping to provide the stable environment that their 2021 second-round draft pick needs to channel his apparent talent at cornerback. Joseph transferred from LSU to Kentucky after his freshman season in which he was suspended before the Tigers' bowl game for reportedly violating team rules. He sat out the 2019 season to gain transfer eligibility rules, but he started nine games for Kentucky last season. Joseph sat out the last few games for the Wildcats to prepare for the NFL Draft and only played 20 total collegiate games, but he certainly looked like an NFL-caliber player in 2020. He had five pass-breakups and four interceptions in nine games and followed that up with a Pro Day showing that included a 4.34 40-yard dash. There was considerable speculation that the Cowboys would select a cornerback with their first-round pick, but after they drafted Micah Parsons on Day 1 of the draft, they quickly added Joseph to the team with their No. 44 overall pick.

What's Next: Trevon Diggs might have set some unreasonable expectations for a rookie cornerback selected in the second round by being a reliable and promising Week 1 starter. Joseph might come along a little bit slower than Diggs, but the Cowboys did use a valuable draft pick to select him, and they desperately need improved cornerback performance over last season, so the rookie will be expected to be able to contribute to the defense during his rookie season. At 5-11, he isn't the tallest cornerback the Cowboys drafted in 2021, but he might be the most physical and athletic. He showed a knack for making plays, and looked more than competent in SEC play. The hope is that with Jourdan Lewis signed to play the inside cornerback and nickel packages and Anthony Brown available to provide leadership and depth, Diggs and Joseph will eventually be the starting outside cornerbacks of the Cowboys' future.

Bet You Didn't Know: Joseph's most promising performance last season was a matchup with Alabama's Heisman winner DeVonta Smith, who the Eagles drafted with their first-round pick this offseason. Joseph stuck with Smith as well as any cornerback in college football last season and even picked off Alabama QB Mac Jones, who was targeting Smith on a go-route. The Cowboys are likely to see plenty of Smith over the next handful of years, so they'll be hoping Joseph can channel some of those same coverage skills.

Quotable: "Throughout the draft process there were people questioning me about rap. 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." -Kelvin Joseph, on balancing football and music

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