The Clemson Insider gives a scouting report on every player on Clemson’s summer depth chart. We will break down what the player does best, what he needs to work on, how he compares to other former players at his position and where he fits on the Clemson roster.
Player name: Kendall Joseph (6-0, 230)
Player position: Linebacker (weakside)
Years left of eligibility: 2 years
Current rank on depth chart: First Team
Player productivity so far: Joseph grew into a reliable cog in the middle of the Tigers’ 2016 defense. He has 135 career tackles while playing in 22 games, including 15 starts last year. In 2016, he earned the defense’s Most Improved Award. He was the second-leading tackler with 124 stops. He tied for team lead with 13.5 tackles for loss, while adding 3.5 sacks and 16 quarterback pressures as well. He also had an interception.
What player does best: Joseph has very good instincts and runs downhill. He knows how to find the football. Plays with good technique and he does a good job of not getting lost in the wash.
What player needs to work on: Joseph needs to work on his coverage skills. Playing the weakside, he will be asked to cover running backs and tight ends from time-to-time. Last year, Clemson was burned several times by times over the middle or by running backs on wheel routes.
Productivity of former Clemson players at the position (first year and last):
Spencer Shuey, 2013: In his one year playing the weakside, he was second on the team with 119 tackles. He had 7.5 tackles for loss with one sack and 4 passes broken up.
Tony Steward, 2014: In his only season as a starter, Steward was third on the team with 73 tackles and was tied for second with 10 tackles for loss. He had 3.5 sacks and broke up one pass.
B.J. Goodson, 2015: In his one year playing the weakside position, he led the Tigers with 160 tackles and was third on the team with 14 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He had 5.5 sacks and 3 passes broken up. He also had 2 interceptions.
Ben Boulware, 2016: In his one year playing the weakside position fulltime, he led the Tigers with 131 tackles. He was fourth on the squad with 11.5 tackles for loss. He had 4 sacks and 12 quarterback pressures. He also broke up two passes and had one interception. At the end of the year he won the Jack Lambert Award as the nation’s best linebacker and was an All-American.
What can you hope for? You hope Joseph is just as productive as he was when he started at middle linebacker last year. There really is no reason for him not to be. Though he is asked to do a little more in coverage, playing the weakside is similar to play middle linebacker with a lot of the same reads and responsibilities.
What is a realistic expectation? Joseph should be able to at least duplicate his sophomore season, but I would expect him to do like his predecessor, Ben Boulware, did and have even a better year after moving to weakside. It is realistic to expect 130 tackles or so with maybe 14 tackles for loss and 3-5 sacks.
What about the future? Joseph will be eligible to turn professional after the season, but I think he will benefit from being a starter another year which would help keep the Clemson defense strong for another season.