Despite attracting early attention last cycle, Brandon Joseph entered the transfer portal rather than the NFL draft. The former Northwestern safety transfers to Notre Dame with the opportunity to replace Kyle Hamilton as the impactful playmaker in the Fighting Irish secondary. Joseph’s scouting report shines a light on the new Notre Dame safety and as a potential 2023 NFL Draft standout.
Brandon Joseph NFL draft profile
A former quarterback and wide receiver, Joseph transitioned to play safety for College Station in the heartland of high school football — Texas. Despite earning All-State honors and winning a Texas 5A State Championship while racking up almost 300 tackles and 16 interceptions, Joseph was only a three-star recruit in the 2019 recruiting class. While committing early to Texas Tech, he ultimately signed for Northwestern.
Although registering statistics against Ohio State and UMass in 2019, Joseph preserved a redshirt year. The Northwestern safety exploded onto the college football scene in 2020, leading the nation with six interceptions. Finishing the year with 52 tackles, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hurry, two pass breakups, and those six interceptions, Joseph was named Big Ten Newcomer of the Year and earned All-American accolades.
Despite earning considerable attention ahead of the 2021 season, a poor Northwestern team masked some of Joseph’s performances. Starting all 12 games as a team captain, the safety tallied 79 tackles, 1½ tackles for loss, a sack, three interceptions, and four pass breakups. Meanwhile, he added value on punt return with four returns for 114 yards. Rather than declare for the draft, the impactful safety entered the transfer portal. As a result, he figures to be one of Notre Dame’s top prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft.
- Position: Safety
- School: Notre Dame
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’1″, 192 pounds
Brandon Joseph scouting report
Joseph made a name for himself in the 2020 college football season with some eye-popping plays. While his redshirt-sophomore season was less high profile, Joseph’s 2023 NFL Draft scouting report still showcases that those plays are the result of his skill set rather than luck or coincidence. While there may still be areas of improvement, there’s plenty of upside on his scouting report to suggest he can be one of the top safety prospects in 2023.
While highlight plays don’t necessarily make a top-level player, how Joseph has made those eye-popping interceptions are a big part of what makes him an exceptional coverage safety. He demonstrates excellent ball-tracking skills and possesses a pair of hands as secure as any defensive back in the class.
In addition to his ball-tracking skills and catchability, the Notre Dame safety exhibits impressive body control. Joseph possesses the ability to contort his body to make a play at the catch point. He’s also demonstrated his body control in terms of his ability to navigate through traffic in pursuit of the ball carrier. Joseph makes himself elusive and penetrates gaps when tasked with impacting the game in the box.
Additionally, the Notre Dame safety owns an impressive athletic profile. Joseph showcases ample speed to be a sideline-to-sideline threat. When watching the Fighting Irish this coming season, he’ll be the player you see flying around the field. In addition to his play speed, Joseph has a stellar change-of-direction ability with decent fluidity in his movements. That all comes together in coverage with a capacity to close quickly and make a play. Meanwhile, Joseph’s proven he can be sticky when in man coverage.
Joseph was courted by multiple Ivy League programs, a testament to his intelligence. While being clever doesn’t always equate to football intelligence, it certainly does in the Notre Dame safety’s case. Joseph displays superb play-recognition skills and often can be seen directing his teammates to make pre-snap adjustments. Using his football intelligence, Joseph puts himself in position to make the eye-popping plays we referenced above.
The Notre Dame safety’s intelligence is also showcased in his technical approach to the game. He’s demonstrated that he can take correct pursuit angles to make a play in space. Furthermore, Joseph isn’t often misled by acts of offensive misdirection, such as motion, read option, and play action.
On the whole, Joseph demonstrates impressive tackling form and has been able to wrap up and take down even some of the most well-put-together ball carriers he’s faced during his college career. During his Northwestern career, Joseph had been used in the box and on blitz plays to apprehend ball carriers early in the play.
Joseph’s areas of improvement
Although Joseph has a lot of strengths in his 2023 NFL Draft scouting report, the Notre Dame safety does have some significant areas for improvement. This would perhaps explain his decision to enter the transfer portal rather than the draft following the 2021 college football season. Having earned first-round attention early on, his stock had plateaued as a mid-round pick. So, how can he reassert himself this season?
One word: Consistency. While Joseph has demonstrated high-level play in various areas, there’s a lack of consistency in efficiently executing. This is particularly true of his tackling. Joseph sometimes fails to wrap up as a tackler. He’s prone to grappling at boot laces and allowing his opponent to escape. And while Joseph’s shown to take good angles as a tackler, he sometimes can be over-zealous and takes himself out of the play.
Although he’s hardly small at 6’1″ and 192 pounds, there may be some concerns over Joseph’s physicality at the next level. There are times when he struggles at the catch point in contested situations. This is particularly apparent against bigger-bodied wide receivers and tight ends. Meanwhile, Joseph was often ineffective when trying to overcome blockers with physicality. There were several examples on film of him being notably shocked on initial contact.
Although he’s demonstrated versatility by lining up at multiple alignments, there was a high percentage of split-field alignments in the games studied. While Joseph has showcased some range, could he consistently play single-high safety in the NFL? At the moment, that isn’t a projection that you can make. We need to see more college evidence at the alignment.
Current draft projection for Notre Dame S Brandon Joseph
Currently, Joseph projects as one of the top safety prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft class. His football intelligence, ball skills, and decent athletic profile should ensure that he attracts significant NFL attention.
With his transfer to Notre Dame, Joseph has the opportunity to hone his skills and put himself into the national conscience. However, he’ll need to produce more consistently while developing on the above areas of improvement if he’s to garner anything more than Day 2 consideration.