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Is Kelvin Joseph a Day One Starter at Cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys?

Going into the 2021 NFL Draft, cornerback was the most glaring need for the Dallas Cowboys. They had Trevon Diggs on the one side but needed to hit on cornerback with a premium pick to feel comfortable about their other outside cornerback spot.

Yes, the team has Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown, but both of those players project as slot cornerbacks, and there’s been a lot of talk about Lewis transitioning to safety.

What’s a better tradition, Jerry Jones hyping up the Cowboys Super Bowl chances or Cowboys Nation moving corners to safety?

After the board didn’t fall the way the Dallas Cowboys expected and missed out on Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain, the Cowboys were left with a plan B option in Micah Parsons. Not that he’s a bad option, but it’s clear from their comments after the draft that the plan was to take one of the cornerbacks.

After they missed out on one of the top two cornerbacks in round one, it was obvious where the Cowboys would go with the 44th overall pick in the draft, and that was cornerback. Enter Kelvin Joseph into the chat.

Joseph is an intriguing talent with good size and ball skills but with limited experience in college after transferring from LSU to Kentucky. Joseph’s foray into hip hop production turned some coaches off, believing he wasn’t committed to football because apparently college athletes aren’t allowed to have outside interests.

Kelvin Joseph played in 15 college games, six as a freshman in 2018, before playing in nine with Kentucky in 2020. In that 2020 season, Joseph had four interceptions, one he returned for a touchdown and a pass deflection.

Per Pro Football Focus, his best games last year were against Tennessee, where he had the pick-6, against Alabama, where Joseph locked down Devonta Smith, and against Mississippi State. He received coverage grades of 76 or above in these three games, with a high of 91.6 against Tennessee.

Though he’s still a bit raw as a player, he has all the tools in the box for Al Harris to work with to develop his game at the NFL level. His length, burst, and instincts combined with confidence make him a player with the upside to be a true lockdown corner. He’ll need to refine some of the processing aspects of his game, so he doesn’t fall for double moves put on by the elite route runners of the NFL.

Because the options at corner aren’t great, the Cowboys need to throw caution to the wind and let Joseph learn on the job. There will be some growing pains, but Joseph should get more comfortable and learn from any early-season struggles he might experience as the season progresses.

The Dallas Cowboys need to become more consistent in taking the ball away, and Joseph’s ability to play the football in the air and create turnovers should get him on the field right away. For the Cowboys to get where they want to go, they need improved play from their defense and their cornerback group, and Kelvin Joseph has the opportunity to be an impact player from day one.

What do you think?


Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


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  1. Read where Kelvin has the traits and/or tools to be the best CB in the draft. I guess training camp, etc will reveal if he will be day one starter or not.

    Tough opening day game against Tampa Bay in their home. Big early test!

    • He’s got a ton of tools that provide a ton of upside. I’m excited to see him in training camp. Week 1 is a huge test right out of the gate for both sides of the football.

  2. Wait. He “locked down D Smith” in the Alabama game? Didn’t Smith have 9 receptions, 144 yards, and 2 TDs?

  3. Why not move Joseph to free safety???? He is young and has a clean slate!! Of course if this happens we need to sign a cb but it’s just an idea since we are trying everyone else at fs ….

  4. Joseph and Diggs will be the cornerstone of the Cowboys defense for seasons to come. By 2023, the Cowboys defense will be dominant, take it to the bank my friend.

  5. He’s a player you pretty much got to start, with the playmaking ability he has, we need that in our secondary, also there’s little to no competition, the other CBs we have are slot corners or Nahshon Wright who’s a bit of a project.

    That said don’t expect a huge change defensively as it’ll take some time for Joseph and these other young corners to acclimate to the NFL, it’ll be one of those where it looks like not much has changed at first, but in the latter half of the season and the season after this one, we’ll look a lot better in our secondary.

  6. I’m concerned about the line and our ability to stop the run and put consistent pressure on the QB. Because no matter how good are secondary is if they are worried about tackling RBs or QBs have all day to throw the ball well then…..? But I am hopeful.

  7. If he’s not a day 1 starter then draft was a failure especially given the fact Cowboys could have spent a little draft capital to move up and get the best safety in the draft, Moehrig.

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