MORGANTOWN, W.Va — His teammates chugged past scouts and shuffled between cones at West Virginia’s pro day while Karl Joseph wore a backpack on the sidelines.
Less than six months removed from the knee injury that shuttered his senior season, Joseph has substituted rehab for the typical predraft conditioning. No matter, because scouts still rank him among the most desirable safeties in the upcoming draft.
“I have three-plus years of film so they have a lot to evaluate,” Joseph said Monday. “That’s what really matters.”
Copious amounts of film, actually, considering his 42 games as a starter included almost 3,400 snaps.
“They know what kind of player I am and what kind of person I am,” he said. “They know I’m going to come back from this.”
For recovery advice, Joseph chatted up Rams running back Todd Gurley, who gained 1,106 yards in 13 games as a rookie after suffering a torn ACL the previous November. (Joseph’s injury occurred Oct. 5.) Both turned to Dr. James Andrews for surgery and rehab in Pensacola, Fla.
Whereas Gurley went 10th overall in the 2015 draft, Joseph retains slim hopes of being a first-rounder.
“I think it’s possible, but it doesn’t matter if it’s second or third round. As long as I get an opportunity I’m going to do my best with it,” he said. “I’m a very coachable player. I can fit into any scheme.”
Joseph admitted he hoped to run the 40 at pro day despite physical therapists warning him it wasn’t realistic because of re-injury risk.
“Sometimes your mind tells you that you can do it, but your body’s not ready for it,” he said. “I’m running close to normal, though. I’m doing change-of-directions, backpedalling that kind of stuff.”
His upper body appears noticeably thicker, and Joseph pushed 19 reps on the 225-pound bench press Monday. He lamented not reaching 22 reps—which would have matched the most by a safety at the combine—proving his competitive drive doesn’t need rehabbing. He’s hungry to get past the draft and get back on the field at mini-camp.
“Once you’re on the field you have to prove you’re better than me,” he said, “and I don’t think too many people do that.”