Cowboys CB Kelvin Joseph named breakout candidate in 2022

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Rookie years are funny things. Circumstances can sometimes keep a young player from showing his full potential in his first year out of college. Now often times those circumstances have to do with the depth chart the player is drafted into. Other times the player themselves is the cause of the blessings being blocked. And sometimes, in the case of Dallas Cowboys second-year cornerback Kelvin Joseph, it’s a combination of both.

Joseph was going to have to work to take snaps away from veterans Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis early on last year, but any chance of that was thwarted when Joseph injured his groin late in the preseason. On top of some rumored attendance and focus missteps in the offseason, the second-round pick became an afterthought in the club’s secondary as Trevon Diggs, Brown and Lewis all put together career years. But that doesn’t mean that Joseph doesn’t have talent, and that intriguing “what if” landed him on ESPN’s list of potential second-year breakout candidates for 2022.

Joseph checks in at No. 9 on the list.

Pick in 2021 draft: No. 44

While first-round cornerbacks Greg Newsome II and Eric Stokes are also excellent breakout candidates — and Pat Surtain II already qualifies as having broken out — there’s reason to believe the Cowboys’ second-rounder is in for a big sophomore campaign. It took Joseph a while to see the field as a rookie in 2021, but it was worth the wait. On only 97 coverage snaps, he allowed seven catches on 15 targets for 49 yards with two pass breakups.

What makes Joseph all the more intriguing is the unknown. He played all of 757 snaps for his entire collegiate career. A top recruit in Louisiana, Joseph started at LSU and played 222 snaps in 2018 before being suspended for the Tigers’ bowl game and subsequently transferring. He landed at Kentucky, where he allowed only 271 yards in his lone season with the team.

As one of the youngest players in the 2021 draft class, Joseph won’t turn 22 until November. All that suggests his arrow should still be pointed upward.

Of course, Joseph’s 2022 is up in the air as he was identified as a person of interest for being in a car where a gunman shot and killed a young man in Dallas. Joseph was not arrested, but there is the possibility the NFL decides to impose a suspension regardless.

For now, though, Joseph is preparing for training camp just like the rest of his teammates after missing some offseason work due to a “minor injury“.

Brown is entering the final year of a three-year second contract. Combined with Joseph’s draft pedigree, it would behoove the club to give Joseph the opportunity to prove what he can do on the field, provided he convinces them he’s going to be able to stay out of trouble when off it.

The early returns were favorable, but the NFL is littered with unrealized dreams from players who once flashed potential. Joseph will need to control his circumstances moving forward if he is to avoid being another cautionary tale.

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