At just 22 years old Karl Joseph isn't familiar with the Raiders' vaunted secondaries of the 1970s, but he is very familiar with one player in particular – a player he'll be asked to replace in 2016.
"They had a great one that just retired," Joseph said via conference call referencing the recently-retired Charles Woodson. "He was one of my favorites as well. It's going to be a big shoe to fill, but I'm not looking to do that. He's obviously a future Hall of Famer, a great one and one of the greatest to ever play. All I can do is just come in and try to do my job and be the best Karl I can be."
General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Jack Del Rio are hopeful that Joseph's best will manifest as a punishing safety who can cover ground and make receivers think twice about coming over the middle.
"He's a guy that is very versatile," Del Rio explained following the pick. "He can play at all the levels of your defense. He can come off the edge as a blitzer. He can play down in the box. He can play centerfield. He's a guy that does a great job taking angles, and he's a very effective and efficient hitter and tackler."
However, according to Joseph, the one thing that separates him from any other player in the 2016 NFL Draft is his intensity, and that has to be music to the ears of everyone in the Raiders' front office.
"I'm a dog," Joseph said. "I play with that intensity. I play with a chip on my shoulder. I'm very confident in myself. I play with a deep passion and love for the game. I don't think there's anybody else in the draft that plays with more passion than me."
Karl Joseph At West Virginia
Added Del Rio, "I think the temperament that he brings, the intensity that he plays with and the instinctiveness that he has, those are things that we covet."
Del Rio was also quick to note that while Joseph is well-known for his big hits and explosive plays, he's also proven to be valuable in coverage as well.
"I wouldn't take anything away from his ball-hawking ability, his ball skills, his instincts, his ability to read quarterbacks and catch balls, not just knock them down, but catch them," Del Rio explained. "He's a playmaker. He's a playmaker that takes good angles and also tackles and is known for his hitting, but he's more than just a hitter. I think he's a really good football player."
Unlike other players projected to go in the first round, Joseph elected not to go to Chicago for draft – he was actually in Haiti visiting family when he got the call – but regardless of his location, the Orlando, Fla.-native is ready to get to work in Silver and Black.
"I just really can't wait to get into the facility and just grind and grind," Joseph said. "I told them once I picked up that phone, I promised they won't regret this pick. I'm going to show them why they picked me at this number one pick."