When the St. Louis Rams drafted Lamarcus Joyner in the second round of the 2014 draft, the team envisioned him manning the defense's nickel corner position.
Joyner was able to start for a good chunk of the season and even had moments where he looked like a solid addition. However, when starter Trumaine Johnson came back to the team - after recovering from injury - things changed. The Rams moved Joyner down a peg on the depth chart and Joyner ended up getting hurt; finishing the season as an afterthought.
The young corner was soon forgotten about and replaced with fifth round rookie E.J. Gaines. Will Joyner be able to get back on the field?
If there is one position the Rams are deep at, it's the corner position. That means Joyner will have a long climb to becoming a starter. Towards the end of the season the Rams mainly used Janoris Jenkins, Johnson, and Gaines as their starting corners. Honestly, it's hard to imagine Joyner replacing one of those three players on a regular basis. At a glance though, it appears Joyner is the 4th corner on the depth chart. Two other corners, Brandon McGee and Marcus Roberson, are ready to pounce on Joyners' spot.
Corner is not the only position Joyner could get playing time at this season. He could also play safety. Granted, him playing safety might not be in the Rams' plans, considering he didn't play safety last season and they’ve yet to mention him as a potential contributor at the position. The 5-foot-8 defender does have experience playing both positions during his collegiate career.
There’s also some depth at safety, and Joyner finds himself in the same position as corner. The Rams currently have their two starters at safety in T.J. McDonald and Rodney McLeod. After the starters, the backup positions are less crowded. Mark Barron makes things interesting by playing some safety and third down linebacker. The depth chart has yet to be solidified, but Joyner would look to be the fourth safety, just above Maurice Alexander, Christian Bryant, and Cody Davis.
Expectations For Joyner
Joyner needs to find a way to get on the field so that there can be expectations of him. When the Rams drafted him it was to be a sub-package player...not a guy to be on the field on every down. He was also brought in because in college he had a knack for producing turnovers and he was a pretty good blitzer.
After watching Joyner playing throughout the season there is much to like. He has the qualities that will make him a key member of the team. He is a sound tackler and is not afraid of making contact. He may struggle covering on deep routes, but as long as he keeps the receiver in front of him he is fine. He usually brings the ball-carrier down before he gains any additional yards.
Chances of Making The Roster (10/10)
The Rams invested a lot by adding Joyner to the roster, and after one year it is hard to imagine him not being a part of the team. The real question is whether Joyner can find a way to get meaningful snaps this year. He is talented, and if used the right way, he should become a long-term starter. Whether that’s 2015 or next year...we’ll just have to wait and see.