The most improved area on the New Orleans Saints in 2018 was their linebacking corps. Demario Davis had been signed as a free agent during the previous offseason and played at a Pro Bowl level. Alex Anzalone, a 3rd round pick in 2017, remained healthy and added an athletic and playmaking element along with Davis. A.J. Klein had a quietly efficient year, and all 3 players showed the capability to play all inside and outside spots, as well as the ability to stay on the field regardless of situation. Craig Robertson was re-signed in the offseason to provide depth, and insures that the team has a linebacking unit with both solid athleticism and excellent versatility. While Davis is one of the most underrated defensive players in the NFL, and Anzalone seems on the verge of stardom, Klein is headed into a contract year and has a rather high cap number. New Orleans may look to add another athletic playmaker to this level of the defense, and the subject of today's draft profile could fill that role perfectly.
Vosean Joseph, LB (Florida)
Joseph attended Norland High School in Miami, FL., earning all-state recognition as a senior. He kept his talents in-state, but moving north to attend the University of Florida. He saw some defensive action as a freshman, despite being on a team with eventual high draft picks Anzalone and Jarrad Davis at linebacker, but mainly participated on special teams. Joseph moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore, and was inconsistent but flashed potential, finishing with 55 tackles and an interception. He was a bit more consistent in 2018, leading the Gators with 93 tackles (including 9 for loss), 4 sacks, and five passes defensed. Joseph did not participate in the on-field workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine. His athletic potential is off the charts, but inconsistent performances has him likely destined for a mid-day 2 or early day 3 draft pick.
Vosean Joseph is an explosive linebacker with outstanding range and good aggression. He has terrific change of direction, and flows seamlessly sideline to sideline from anywhere on the field. Joseph can match up with opposing tight ends in man coverage, has excellent ball skills once the ball is thrown, and can even pick up a bigger wideout in the slot. He can be a devastating blitzer from the edge, providing a disruption in the backfield and has elite pursuit abilities to finish with a closing burst. Joseph slides along the line of scrimmage well against the run, knifing quickly through gaps between blockers to make a play.
Joseph has very good read and react skills, but he must hone his natural instincts and aggressive nature to avoid getting caught out of position. He struggles to take on blockers head-on, and can get pushed around or hung up in traffic. Joseph packs a punch as a hitter, but can get grabby at times as a tackler instead of wrapping up and finishing.
Vosean Joseph played many of his snaps as an off the ball middle linebacker in college, but was able to excel all over the field. He has the athleticism and reaction skills that will translate well against NFL passing attacks, with the frame to add more bulk as a run defender. His best fit initially may be on the weakside, where he can utilize his athletic ability better in open space as a blitzer and in coverage, with the possibility of moving to the middle as a nickel 'backer. The Saints defensive coaches insist on versatility from all their defensive players, but particularly from their linebackers. This unit is more athletic than we've seen in years, and a player like Vosean Joseph could be a perfect fit in their defensive system.