The NFL has rapidly become a spread-happy, pass-heavy league.
Defenses have had to make the adjustment of exchanging a linebacker out for a defensive back. Ideally, teams find players specifically for that role, players who can excel in coverage and hold up well enough in the run game.
Lamarcus Joyner is that player for the Los Angeles Rams.
Joyner played both safety and cornerback at Florida State. He could play any cornerback role, too. As a field corner, boundary corner and slot corner, Joyner proved he could be a quality coverage player and make plays. He has done much of the same for the Rams, being moved around all over the defensive secondary depending on the offensive matchups.
Joyner can hold up just fine as a boundary corner, but the Rams have two better options for the position. Trumaine Johnson and a now healthy E.J. Gaines will man the perimeter in 2016. Joyner is the next man up, though. Not only is he the best slot option, but he is also the best option as a backup option on the outside.
The Rams signed CB Coty Sensabaugh in mid-March, but he should not steal Joyner’s job. Joyner provides more in the run defense department and has a bit more position flexibility. CB Marcus Roberson could chip into those two’s snaps, but they will likely remain the third and fourth cornerbacks in front of Roberson.
With the departures of FS Rodney McLeod and CB Janoris Jenkins, Joyner will be forced into a bigger role next season. He will probably net most of the snaps in the DB5 role. He can be used as a slot cornerback and strong safety hybrid because of his willingness and ability as a run defender. The Rams can play him to the strong side of the formation without handicapping their run defense.
Chances of Making Final Roster (9/10)
Joyner doesn’t have to worry about his spot on the team. He’s going to make the roster and be a key contributor, even if Sensabaugh ends up taking some of his snaps. Joyner played well last year and is too versatile of a player for the Rams to move on from.
Joyner has a bright future in the league, and 2016 is a big opportunity for him to really shine.