Karl Joseph making strong case to be in Raiders 2019 plans


Karl Joseph making strong case to be in Raiders 2019 plans

ALAMEDA – Reggie Nelson and Marcus Gilchrist sat atop the Raiders safety rotation to start this season. Erik Harris had earned some opportunities over the summer, was working in with are typically three-down starting spots.

Karl Joseph was in the fourth spot, draft status be damned. The Raiders’ 2016 first-round pick was said to have struggled making accurate reads and checks in a new defensive system. He wasn’t playing much the first two weeks, and then suffered a hamstring injury in Week 3 that kept him out three games. He returned after the bye to find himself on the trading block, an unwelcome turn he’s happy never became an actual deal.

He’s been solid since the trade deadline passed, especially after entering the starting lineup on Nov. 11.

Joseph has added toughness and physicality to the defensive front as a rover who can move and play all around the field.

“He’s been a really good open field tackler,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “I think he’s showing really good range. He’s recognizing plays and he’s making plays. That’s exciting. He’s getting better and better in this defense.”

The third sentence of Gruden’s quote was a perceived weakness. Showing progress in that area has made Joseph a playmaker the Raiders expected when taking him in the first round.

His size presents a disadvantage in some coverage matchups, but the Raiders are doing well to avoid putting him in bad spots. He’s being given a chance to shine, and has taken advantage.

“I'm just trying to get better every game, every week, every practice,” Joseph said after Sunday’s 40-33 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. “You just have to keep growing as a player. I'm starting to establish myself more as a role in the defense. Just have to keep building on it. Everything is about wins in this league. We just have to keep getting better, build on this.”

[RELATED: Derek Carr taking Gruden's QB system in stride]

The back end has gotten better with time, as Gareon Conley and Daryl Worley playing well. Rashaan Melvin has his moments, and Joseph brings a new and vital element to proceedings.

He’s a thumper, something the Raiders have missed in recent seasons. He carried that reputation out from West Virginia, but is out to prove he’s more than just a heavy hitter.

He has been better in coverage and strong playing the run, with seven “run stops” tackles Pro Football Focus considers an offensive failure on the ground. He has 18 tackles in this four-game run as a starter, with just one catch allowed.

He had a beauty on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, standing up Chiefs rusher Spencer Ware with a vicious blow. He almost got Ware again on fourth down, but a direct snap to him created just enough misdirection to get past the goal line.

Joseph also just missed an interception against the Chiefs, one that bothered him after the Chiefs loss. That fits Joseph’s personality. He’s critical of his own work, and knows he isn’t playing perfect football.

Even strides are important at this stage of a lost season, as Joseph is already trying to carve out a spot on next year’s squad.

“He has a lot of talent, and I think he’s taking advantage of his opportunities,” Gruden said. “He’s healthy. He’s been able to practice. I think his preparation has a lot to do with his performance. He’s strung some really good weeks together for us.”

NFL odds: Raiders' Josh Jacobs a favorite to score first Las Vegas TD


NFL odds: Raiders' Josh Jacobs a favorite to score first Las Vegas TD

The Raiders’ home opener in Las Vegas is scheduled for Sept. 21 on “Monday Night Football” against the New Orleans Saints.

Which player will score the first regular-season touchdown at Allegiant Stadium?

You can bet on that proposition at the Westgate sportsbook, which posted odds on 18 players.

“They always talk about things that are established years later. Trivia-type things, like who was the player that scored the first touchdown at the stadium in Las Vegas,” Westgate vice president of risk Jeff Sherman said. ” We just wanted a wagering option similar to that.”

The Saints are 4½-point favorites over the Raiders, and the total is 50½ points.

[RELATED: Raiders' three key camp battles]

New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara is the 5-1 favorite to score the first TD, Saints wideout Michael Thomas is the 6-1 second choice, and Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs is the 8-1 third pick.



2021 NFL Mock Draft: Raiders pick North Dakota State QB Trey Lance


2021 NFL Mock Draft: Raiders pick North Dakota State QB Trey Lance

Is there room in Las Vegas for yet another quarterback? Maybe.

In a 2021 NFL Mock Draft by CBS Sports, writer R.J. White has the Raiders selecting North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the No 12 overall pick in the first round. 

The keyword White uses here is “upside,” and that word is synonymous with Jon Gruden’s offensive strategy. He wants it all.

But what would that mean with who they have right now? 

[RAIDERS TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Derek Carr holds that top spot, and despite the rumors of him and Gruden not seeing eye-to-eye, the two apparently get along swimmingly. Naturally, sometimes they’ll bump heads, but that’s standard.

Behind him is Marcus Mariota who has the experience and is a great leader. He also stands to push Carr to be a better quarterback. He’s signed through 2021 with Nathan Peterman, a Gruden favorite, rounding up the current squad.

For Carr, well, it could initially appear to be bad news for the QB who was booed off the field for the team’s final game in Oakland, but that might not be the case.

He sent a strong message to the haters after that happened, but the Mariota pressures could be a positive. He’s not going anywhere, but this could be a glimpse into the future. 

[RELATED: Carr sends message to the haters]

But … for the heck of it. Here’s a clip of Lance:

Carr gets a lot of hate. That was one of Pat McAfee’s questions when he spoke to former Raiders receiver Jordy Nelson recently. But he knows that’s all part of the package. Despite some rumors of trade talks during the combine, those appeared to have died down.