In the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams traded up in order to be in a position to take a guy that they desperately wanted, Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner. Joyner is a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball, and for newly added defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams’ defense to be successful, you need playmakers.
Last season, the Rams’ secondary struggled on many levels, and given Joyner’s versatility, it is thought that he will be a good fit in this Rams defense. Joyner was arguably the most versatile cornerback in the draft, which was perfect for the Rams. Joyner is an interchangeable player in a defense that loves to have interchangeable parts.
Joyner has the ability to play back at safety or at the nickel cornerback spot. Given that the Rams’ need at both spots, it made complete sense that the Rams took Joyner in the second round.
The versatile cornerback has the ability to blitz from both the nickel and safety spots as well as make tackles in space. Joyner is really just a great well-rounded player.
With his well-roundedness and versatility this guy can play almost any position in the secondary, and has experience at each position. The biggest question about Joyner however, for Rams fans, is where is Joyner going to line-up on most plays during games?
Although we won’t know the exact plan that the Rams have for Joyner, it would be pretty easy to say that they will most likely line him up in the nickel corner spot. In today’s NFL, the slot-corner has become a very important position with team trying to find their version of Wes Welker. Defenses in today’s day and age play a lot in the nickel formation. Having a good nickel corner is crucial in today’s NFL.
Given Joyner’s speed and ability to be physical, he should have no problem covering slot receivers. At nickel Joyner can also be closer to the line of scrimmage to blitz and will be in a better position in run support.
The Rams didn’t have one specific nickel cornerback last season, and the main two, Rodney McLeod and Cortland Finnegan, didn’t grade out so well. According to Pro Football Focus Finnegan graded 37th out of 45 cornerbacks who got at least 25% of their snaps from the slot, and despite only 145 snaps in the slot, Finnegan still allowed the 2nd most touchdowns from the nickel with three. With McLeod, it only got worse as he was grade as the 41st slot corner out of 45.
With Joyner, the Rams have a guy that can play in the slot consistently and a guy that they can trust. Given his versatility however, The Rams can, and don’t be surprised if they do put him at safety here and there. That is how they are going to maximize his ability.
He is great at anticipating where the ball is going to go and he is very instinctive. Joyner can play the center fielder role that the defense has also been missing.
The Rams’ secondary struggled much of last season, and Joyner will be a huge addition. Although the secondary still has its holes, Joyner will prove to be a crucial addition in years to come.