Kurt Warner. James Harrison. Dick “Night Train” Lane. Antonio Gates.
Over the years, there have been several undrafted free agents who have left indelible marks on the game of football. Despite not being seen as worthy enough of an NFL Draft selection, these players have overcome the odds and have gone on to become successful NFL players.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take a look at of 10 of the undrafted free agents that the Chicago Bears signed this offseason to try and determine who stands the best chance of making it to the 53-man roster. In this article, we’ll take a look at the fourth player on the list: Dubuque alumnus Michael Joseph.
Joseph is a local product, having graduated from Oswego High School. After not being given even a single star by recruiters, Joseph went to Dubuque and didn’t play as a freshman. From then on, though, he proved that he was a game-changer at cornerback. He went on to record 15 interceptions in his final three seasons, including eight in 2017. In his senior year, Joseph was named a Division III All-American and won the Cliff Harris Award, which is given to the best small-school defender in the nation.
There is one individualized cut-up of Joseph on YouTube: his performance against Nebraska Wesleyan University.
One of Joseph’s premier traits in his game is his ball skills, where are backed up by his impressive interception production. He excels at tracking down deep passes and can high point the ball well. His long, six-foot-one, 180-pound frame helps him out in that regard, as his length gives him an advantage over smaller defenders. He’s a good athlete who has fluid hips and can backpedal naturally and quickly. Joseph is also a solid tackler and can recover well if he creates too much separation.
As is the case with any small-school prospect, the leap in talent from Divisions II or III is a massive one, and Joseph will need to step up his game if he wants to make an efficient transition. Although he showed the ability to recover from early separation in the Iowa Conference, NFL wide receivers are much more likely to burn him. He’s physical in press-man coverage, but he can be a bit grabby and doesn’t have great technique. He’ll also need to gain some weight to add some more bulk to his frame.
Chances of making the 53-man roster
Joseph had a draftable grade on my board this year and was a very good get as an undrafted free agent after the draft. However, he’s also competing for a roster spot with two other undrafted cornerbacks who also could have realistically been drafted in Kevin Toliver and Rashard Fant. He also has the likes of Cre’Von LeBlanc, Marcus Cooper and Sherrick McManis to fight with for a spot on the 53-man roster. Although the odds of Joseph’s making it onto the team are slim, he has potential to be a rotational contributor with special teams value. He would be a very good addition to the practice squad.