Position: Defensive back
College Stats: 56 tackles, 8 interceptions, 8 pass break-ups in 2017
No 2018 NFL Draft prospect had a more unlikely route to becoming a potential draft pick than Dubuque’s Michael Joseph. Joseph wasn’t unheralded, but simply unknown coming out of high school. He was a back-up throughout his high school career, and almost every school who saw him told him he was too small to play at the collegiate level. At just 5’8” and 130 pounds, it was pretty easy to agree with that assessment.
Dubuque brought Joseph on as a relative afterthought, but he started to make some waves thanks to a late growth spurt and a lot of time in the weight room. As he grew, he proved to the coaching staff that he deserved to be on the field and he became a full-time starter as a sophomore in 2015.
Once he got on the field, he showed everyone just how talented he really was. Joseph was a First Team All-Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection from 2015 to 2017 and was given the Cliff Harris Award as the Best Small College Defensive Player of the Year. Student athletes from Division II, Division III, and NAIA are all eligible for the award, making his success no small feat.
Joseph’s determination to succeed is his best attribute. Guys aren’t usually able to put on 60 pounds of good weight during the course of a collegiate career, especially those at lower-tier programs that lack the resources of college football’s giants.
For a defensive back, Joseph has really good hands. He notched 15 interceptions over the course of his collegiate career, and he was able to play well in both man and zone. Joseph also proved that he can come up and play the run, setting the edge when need be.
There will always be questions about players that come from outside the FBS. Analysts will wonder how much of their success is due to their talent and how much was the result of their level of competition.
The IIAC is not one of the stronger conferences in Division III. None of the traditional powerhouses are a part of the IIAC and Dubuque didn’t play any of the big boys in Division III in 2016 and 2017. Dubuque did face Saint John’s (MN) twice in 2015 and were soundly thumped each time.
If Joseph can put on about 15 to 20 pounds without losing speed, he can make an impact in the NFL. He will need a year to add weight and develop, and his learning curve will be steep. However, you don’t find six-foot cornerbacks with his speed and athletic ability often, so that makes him a very intriguing prospect. Joseph has been contacted by a few teams for private workouts in the weeks leading up to the draft, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him come off the board in the sixth or seventh round.