Kelvin Joseph
Kentucky cornerback Kelvin Joseph is flying under the radar. His coverage and ball skills are second to none in this draft. (Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel)

The 2021 draft class features stud prospects in Caleb Farley, Patrick Surtain, and Jaycee Horn. But there is another corner in the draft who can compete at just as high of a level, Kelvin Joseph. The former 5-star recruit transferred from LSU to Kentucky after his freshman year and then played a shortened season for the Wildcats in 2020. Considered a first-rounder by Mel Kiper, Joseph’s main concern is the lack of reps and tape on him, but the limited tape shows plenty of promise.

In 9 games for Kentucky, Joseph had 4 interceptions (leading the SEC) with one returned for a touchdown against top-tier SEC competition. November featured a matchup with the explosive Florida offense consisting of Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney. Joseph had a hiccup in the first quarter where Pitts got by him and scored a touchdown, but after that Joseph was in lockdown the rest of the game.

Against the vaunted Alabama offense and the Heisman winning DeVonta Smith, Joseph was the only bright spot for the Wildcat defense. In a slaughter where Bama won 63-3, Joseph played absurdly well. In his 24 coverage snaps, Joseph allowed 0 catches, had 2 forced incompletions, and 1 interception. All playing against the best duo in college football consisting of Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith.

At 6-foot-1 Joseph has the length that scouts love when transitioning to the next level. He is fast and fluid enough to stick with anyone in one-on-one coverage. Projected to run in the 4.3’s means he possesses more than enough speed to keep up with the best receivers in the NFL. He demonstrates elite ball skills, shown in the number of interceptions and forced incompletions.

The main reasons for concern are not only for the lack of experience, but the character and team violations that have occurred in his limited college career. However, these issues are nothing we haven’t seen before. Cornerback Marcus Peters had much larger concerns when he was coming out of Washington and has been an exceptional NFL defensive back. Based on talent alone, Kelvin Joseph will be flying up draft boards come April.