After three years at the cornerback position for Nebraska, Joshua Kalu was moved to safety in spring 2017. Former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco wanted his best defenders on the field, and he believed Kalu was the best fit at safety.
“Joshua Kalu could play a myriad of different positions really, really well,” Diaco said during fall camp last season. “He’s a talented player. He’s a rugged, tough player. He’s a smart player. We all collectively believe that safety is his natural position. We believe that from an evaluation standpoint and a future standpoint that he would be a very, very good corner, [or] maybe even a great corner.
“But in my mind, there is no doubt he is and/or will be one of the best safeties in the country, if not the very best safety in the country.”
A hamstring injury restricted Kalu, leaving him able to start only 9 games. Even with the injury, he made 47 stops, intercepted 2 passes and broke up another 6.
“What Bob [Diaco] said about Joshua is true,” Miller told Land of 10. “If he can get in the right system, I think his versatility is going to be huge for him because he has that background as a corner and can play all over.”
- 40-yard dash: 4.58 seconds
- Bench press: 17 reps
- Vertical jump: 41.5 inches
- Broad jump: 134.0 inches
Kalu, who is 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, has the right size to be a safety in the NFL. He’s also a tough player who showed “he could pursue with improved patience,” according to his NFL.com scouting profile. He also impressed with his ability to line up over big slot receivers.
“In a league where everyone is in a nickel or dime all the time now, you need those guys who can be good matchup players,” Miller said. “He has the size to match up on the outside. He has the size to match up with tight ends. His speed is probably the biggest concern right now and hopefully he gets that time down at [Nebraska’s] pro day a little bit. I like him as a late-round guy who is going to play well on special teams. He can play in sub-packages, and he’s so aggressive at playing the ball. There’s so many guys in this class that aren’t. There are so many small corners and safeties this year that I think that could really help him out.”
Miller said he also liked Kalu’s physicality as a player.
A major concern for Kalu is his speed. By running a 4.58 40-yard dash, he’d be on the lower end of speed for NFL safeties. That’s something Miller would like to see Kalu improve on, as well as his tackling.
“Speed and missed tackles are the biggest things,” Miller said. “You can kind of scheme away from speed sometimes, but playing safety, if you come downhill and can’t get body control and make those open-field tackles, that’s a pretty big red flag. Those would be the two things going off memory that stood out for me.”
Kalu will be of interest for teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Chargers. All four teams would be able to benefit from Kalu’s skill set, while also helping him benefit from their scheme.
“For Joshua, I think it will be more teams that run the Seattle- or Jacksonville-style defense,” Miller said. “Seattle, Jacksonville, San Francisco [all run it]. The Chargers are also running that as well. Those are all teams that would be a fit for his size and could cover up his lack of speed a little bit.”
NFL.com: 5.21, which projects him as an NFL backup or a player with special teams potential
“He was exactly as I expected, so I would say there’s some pressure to run really well at his pro day,” Miller said. “If he does that and can shave tenths of a second off that time, that’ll be a big help for him. I’d say his stock is pretty neutral right now.”