Backup linebackers often stick on NFL rosters early in their careers by showing themselves to be sound special-teams players. The Buffalo Bills have kept plenty of linebackers for that purpose during head coach Sean McDermott’s tenure, opting to keep six linebackers on the initial 53-man roster in each of the past two seasons.
With the talent the Bills have at the position this year, it seems likely that they will once again keep at least six linebackers, with the possibility of a seventh man depending on their plans. In today’s installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile one of those linebackers looking to stick as a backup on the 2019 roster.
Name: Vosean Joseph
Height/Weight: 6’1” 230 lbs.
Age: 21 (22 on 12/15/19)
Experience/Draft: R; selected in the fifth round (147 overall) by the Buffalo Bills in the 2019 NFL Draft
Acquired: Fifth-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Joseph enters the first year of his four-year rookie contract, a pact that totals $2,841,296 overall, including $321,296 in guaranteed money. This year, Joseph counts $575,324 against the salary cap if he makes the team; if Buffalo cuts him, then the guaranteed money will also double as his dead cap charge.
2018 Recap: As a junior at Florida, Joseph had his best season overall. He led the Gators in tackles with 93, including nine that went for a loss. He also had four sacks, five pass breakups, and a fumble recovery in 13 games.
Positional outlook: Joseph joins a linebacker group that has three clear starters (Lorenzo Alexander, Tremaine Edmunds, and Matt Milano), three veteran special-teams contributors (Maurice Alexander, Julian Stanford, and Deon Lacey), and some young talent looking to make a mark in the league (Corey Thompson, Tyrel Dodson, Juwan Foggie). Lumping Joseph in with the latter group makes sense, as Dodson and Foggie are also rookies, and Thompson is only entering his second year. Worth noting is that Joseph is the only one of those four players who was drafted.
2019 Offseason: Joseph has participated in all offseason activities to date. He ran mostly with the third unit during OTAs, but little has been written about him overall.
2019 Season outlook: Joseph will probably be on the roster when the team faces off against the New York Jets on September 8, but he will have to prove himself to be a worthwhile contributor on special teams in order to ensure his place on the squad. He possesses the athleticism to develop into a high-quality weakside linebacker like Matt Milano—who himself was a fifth-round pick in 2017—but if he’s put in a position where he has to play meaningful defensive snaps as a rookie, the Bills are in trouble. He’s too talented to try to stash on the practice squad, so I think the Bills will end up keeping him. The only question is whether he’ll be kept in place of a veteran like Maurice Alexander or Julian Stanford, or in addition to those veterans. How the backup linebackers perform will be a storyline to watch throughout camp.