Oakland Raiders: Don't Sleep on Frantz Joseph

Jeff LittleSenior Writer IMay 27, 2009

Who is Frantz Joseph?

On the surface, you can consider Frantz Joseph a priority undrafted free agent linebacker, capable of playing all three linebacker positions, that the Oakland Raiders signed to a two-year deal.

You would be correct in that assumption—but it doesn’t answer the question.

You would also be correct if you saw this tackling machine as a hidden gem. You would imagine that with his body of work, the guy would be invited to the NFL Combine. But he was denied that privilege, and it just made him work harder.

A guy projected to be the first player from Florida Atlantic University ever drafted (some experts had him as high as a third or fourth round pick, while others had him as a sixth round pick), Joseph was denied and went undrafted. It simply made him work harder.

Joseph is a strong inside presence and a tremendous competitor with great range and instincts. He is an excellent fit for the Raiders, a team seeking to improve their run defense by adding a tackling machine.

If he were drafted by an NFL club, it would’ve been great not only for Florida Atlantic University and their fans, but also for the Sun Belt Conference.

Several times when it comes to the Raiders' draft, the focus is on measurables as opposed to production on the field. Some people seem to view undrafted players as merely guys that are being brought in as simply training camp bodies.

I would beg to differ.

There is a long list of undrafted players that have had success in the NFL.

That list would include names like Adewale Ogunleye, Brian Waters, Wes Welker, Priest Holmes, Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, Jeff Saturday, Gary Brackett, Willie Parker, Stephen Neal, Rob Bironas, Tony Romo, Antonio Gates, Kris Dielman, Jason Peters, Joshua Cribbs, and 2008 Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison.

Upon further review, when you look deeper into answering the question posed above, you find a solid football player who in 2008 was the second-ranked tackler in the nation, recording 154, with all the tools to make an impact at the NFL level.

His journey to the NFL started as a kid in south Florida. Frantz Joseph played for David Martin on the Fort Lauderdale High School football team, where he earned 4A All-County honors as a senior linebacker. He led the Flying L’s in tackles in 2002 and 2003.

Joseph also amassed 73 tackles in five games during the 2002 season. He followed that up with 96 tackles in seven games. He also found the time to force seven fumbles and acquire two interceptions as Ft. Lauderdale’s captain in 2003. He earned the team MVP honors and also won the All-American student athlete award.

He attended Boston College in 2004 but did not play at all during his freshman year. He transferred in 2005 to FAU to be closer to his mother, who was having health issues, but he practiced with the team.

Two years removed from the game, Joseph came back with a vengeance. He was moved into the starting lineup and made an immediate impact. After 11 games, he finished the year with 61 tackles, which was third on the team. Joseph's most productive game that year came against Lafayette, when he recorded a team-high 14 tackles.

He became known for his hard hits and sure tackling. He earned the team’s “Bone” award, an honor earned following each victory for the hardest hit. The season-ending honor is named the Ramon Rickards Memorial Bone Award for the squad’s inaugural defensive end, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in June 2006.

In 2007, Joseph was one of just two Sun Belt Conference players listed on the Butkus Watch List. He has played hurt on more than one occasion, as he did against OSU. He put up double-digit tackles against Minnesota, a team-high 14 tackles, and in a victory over North Texas with 12.

He posted double-digit tackle totals in seven games, and his lowest tackle total was seven. Plus, while playing Division I football, he completed a double major in business and management as well as working odd jobs to help support his mother.

Frantz Joseph had a solid game in Florida Atlantic University’s win in the Motor City Bowl, posting 13 tackles. He followed that effort with a great game in the Texas vs. The Nation game, where he was named the MVP after making plays all over the field.

He is a stand-up guy that understands the importance of preparation and will do whatever it takes to win. More importantly, he is a hard-working guy, possessing great leadership skills and a hard-working attitude, who plays the game the way it is supposed to be played.

He also has the desire to bring the missing ingredients of physicality and intimidation back to the silver and black defense. They’ve been missing from this team for too long.

Everything I’ve seen and read about Frantz Joseph tells me that this is a guy deserving of a shot and is a guy that you can’t sleep on.