How Lamarcus Joyner Fits with the St. Louis Rams

Steven GerwelContributor IIIMay 9, 2014

Defensive back Lamarcus Joyner jumps for a catch during NFL football Pro Day at Florida State University on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Colin Hackley)
Colin Hackley/Associated Press

The St. Louis Rams entered the second round owning the No. 44 pick, but general manager Les Snead was unable to avoid his natural inclination to cut a deal. 

The Rams traded the No. 44 selection, as well as their fifth-round selection (No. 153 overall), to the Buffalo Bills for the No. 41 overall pick. With that selection, the Rams grabbed Florida State defensive back Lamarcus Joyner. 

It's a bit humorous when you think about it. All offseason, Rams fans have debated whether the team should use a high pick on a cornerback or a safety, so the team responded by selecting a player who plays both. 

Joyner played for a national championship team last season and was a key part of the secondary. Throughout his career with the Seminoles, Joyner recorded eight interceptions, 6.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. 

Ironically, he's not the only Florida State defensive back to join St. Louis' roster this offseason. The Rams also signed Joyner's former teammate Greg Reid in free agency. 

Reid is apparently looking forward to being reunited with his former teammate, according to Jim Thomas of 

Greg Reid on Lamarcus Joyner: "I couldn't be any blessed to have a former Teammate & NOLE in the secondary with me. Turn up Rams Nation!!!!"

— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) May 10, 2014

This is not the first time the Rams have attempted to reunite former teammates. 

Last year, the Rams drafted Tavon Austin in the first round. In the third round, the Rams grabbed Austin's West Virginia teammate Stedman Bailey.

Reuniting teammates is a sound strategy, considering the transition to the NFL is a difficult one. This undoubtedly helps these players adapt by pairing them with someone they're familiar with. 

With Joyner, it's difficult to tell whether the Rams want him at cornerback or safety, but he's apparently more than willing to play either position, according to ESPN's Nick Wagoner

Joyner said he'd put on 100 lbs. and play guard if Rams asked him but considers himself a DB,doesn't care about safety or corner designation

— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) May 10, 2014

 Here's how Joyner fits in at each position:


Joyner at Cornerback

If you look strictly at Joyner's small size, it's easy to presume that he'll line up at cornerback in the NFL, and that certainly would not be a mistake. 

Joyner is not an elite athlete. He ran the 40-yard-dash in a modest 4.55 seconds and recorded just 14 reps on the bench press. However, he has enough speed to run step-to-step with NFL receivers on the outside. 

Joyner also has good ball skills and instincts, so putting him at corner gives him an opportunity to jump routes, disrupt passes and rely on his natural playmaking skills. 

The Rams have two reliable starters at cornerback in Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, so if the Rams view Joyner as a corner, he will not be immediately depended on as a starter. 

It's possible that Joyner will start at safety, where the Rams desperately need a starter, and fill in at corner only as needed. If Jenkins or Johnson go down with an injury, Joyner can jump in at corner and Rodney McLeod will fill in at safety.


Joyner at Safety

Joyner is not naturally built as a run defender, so expecting him to play strong safety and become a missile in run support, like T.J. McDonald, is unrealistic.  

Luckily, the Rams need a coverage safety more than anything, so safety is still very much an option for Joyner. 

Putting Joyner up top takes him out of the action, so he won't be a major playmaker at safety. However, Joyner at safety will greatly improve St. Louis' deep-ball coverage, and that's an area where the team struggled in 2013. 


Joyner on Special Teams

The Rams have Austin as the primary punt returner, but Austin does not cover kickoff returns. Luckily, Joyner has experience in that department. 

Joyner returned 52 kicks during his career at Florida State, and he averaged 24.2 yards per return. 

Joyner does not have a single collegiate touchdown as a returner, so he clearly lacks Austin's mind-boggling explosiveness, but this is an area where he can contribute nonetheless. 


Steven Gerwel is the longest-tenured Rams Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and serves as the Rams' game-day correspondent. You can find more of Gerwel's work by visiting his writer profile or by following him on Twitter.