By the time the 2021 NFL Draft rolled around, former Kentucky cornerback Kelvin Joseph was seen as a fringe second-round pick, potentially slipping to the third round. In Mel Kiper Jr.’s final Big Board leading up to draft night, the standout cornerback came in at No. 67, while ESPN’s Todd McShay had Joseph coming in at No. 64 overall and No. 9 among cornerbacks.
Midway through the second round at pick 44, though, Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys gave Joseph a call and let him know he was the newest member of their organization.
“I’m just blessed right now, living in the moment and thanking God, enjoying this with my family,” Joseph said in an interview with Dallas’ The Draft Show after hearing his name called. “It’s been a long road, long journey, and I’m just thankful that Dallas believed in me.
“… The Cowboys showed a lot of interest, I talked to the entire staff. I talked to everybody,” Joseph said. “I was telling them, “Bro, I hope y’all draft me for real.” He made it happen. I wanted to go to the Cowboys. They had a lot of interest in me, and I’m thankful for that.”
Joseph may have come off the board just a bit earlier than anticipated, but it was a selection the Cowboys were extremely comfortable making. With cornerback at the top of their priority list going into the draft, and Joseph sitting high on their board after several workouts and meetings, they were ready to make that call when pick 44 rolled around.
“I think No. 1 coming out the offseason, something we talk a lot about as a football team, we had 106 days of evaluation before the offseason program started. The thing that just keeps coming up over and over and over again is you never have enough length or speed,” Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy said during the team’s post-draft press conference. “Looking at these selections, that’s clearly evident. Kelvin, I was at his workout in Kentucky, have some people there at Kentucky that were instrumental in giving us insight on his experience there. Tremendous athlete, his physical skills are something that really stood out to us not only on film in his year there playing corner, but in the workout that day.”
Joseph may not be a polished, perfect product right now, but the long-term potential was clear on tape, and it came at a position of need.
“Corner was really important to us in this draft. We were really focused on getting a corner,” Executive Vice President Jerry Jones Jr. added. “… That happens sometimes (where you draft on potential), especially when you’re talking about gifted, blue-type traits, long athletes who are really good at what they do, you have to project it a little bit. Obviously with Micah (Parsons) and (Kelvin) Joseph, when you look at their traits and the tape, the work they put on tape, it was very compelling.”
At the end of the day, Joseph was exactly what the franchise was looking for at cornerback.
“Length, speed, tempo, competitiveness, that’s what we’re looking for,” McCarthy said. “These young guys bring that to the table.”
In his lone season at Kentucky, Kelvin Joseph racked up 25 total tackles and 14 solo to go with four interceptions and one pass deflection in nine games. His four interceptions finished tied for eighth in college football. Now, he hopes to take that production with him to one of the most storied franchises in the NFL.