Illinois football defensive back Kerby Joseph selected by Detroit Lions in third round of 2022 NFL Draft

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Ryan Ash

Defensive back Kerby Joseph goes to make a tackle against Wisconsin at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 9. Joseph was selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.

By Jackson Janes, Staff Writer

Former Illinois defensive back Kerby Joseph is heading to the NFL after spending four years in Champaign, as he was selected by the Detroit Lions in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Joseph is the second straight Illini defensive player to hear his name called in the draft after current Las Vegas Raider Nate Hobbs was picked in the fifth round last year.

In his first three seasons at Illinois, Joseph played 27 games while registering a combined 33 solo tackles, 58 total tackles and four passes defended. He made his college debut on Sept. 1, 2018, though he saw his impact limited under former head coach Lovie Smith.

In current head coach Bret Bielema and defensive coordinator Ryan Walters’ first seasons in Champaign, Joseph flourished. The Orlando, Fla., native was named an All-Big Ten — voted to the first team by the media and to the second team by conference coaches — selection, while Pro Football Focus named Joseph to its All-America second team.

During the 2021 season, Joseph recorded career-highs in almost every statistical category, notching 41 solo tackles, 57 total tackles, five interceptions, seven pass deflections and three fumble recoveries while playing in all 12 games.

Joseph became a nightmare for opposing offenses, recording a turnover in five straight games in the middle of the season. His five interceptions ranked tied for fourth in the NCAA, while his three fumble recoveries ranked tied for third nationally.

 

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