With the NFL slowly evolving into a professional version of the Big 12 (i.e. all passing, all day), two things are happening as a result. First, pass rushers are at an all-time high in terms of value. Second, you can never, ever have enough good defensive backs, both safeties and cornerbacks.
Well, Florida State defensive back Lamarcus Joyner is one of the rare athletes who can, and has, excelled at multiple positions in the ‘Noles’ secondary, making him even more valuable to an NFL team. The ‘biggest’ knock on him, though? His limited stature (5-foot 8). Still, short guys have excelled in the football world before and do even today. Doug Martin, Wes Welker, Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren Sproles are all nearly household names and all are 5-foot 8 or shorter. Does Joyner have what it takes?
- Has lived up to immense hype as top cornerback in the country coming out of high school (powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale).
- Is a team leader on and off the field. Tireless worker, practices like he plays, a student of the game. Top notch intangibles.
- Good strength and excellent speed.
- Has plethora of playing experience at both cornerback and strong safety, has excelled at both.
- Very aggressive and physical brand of play. Hard hitter who plays downhill. Intimidating presence in backfield.
- Usually makes pretty good reads, regularly takes good angles.
- Solid against the run. Usually has strong tackling techniques, and can be enforcer in the box when called upon.
- Very good blitzer. Already has two sacks through three games this season.
- Gives good jam against receivers at line of scrimmage, even against bigger competition.
- Has very good recovery speed, which makes up for occasional bites.
- Good leaping ability on jump balls, especially considering his size.
- Impressive ball skills. Plays the ball well in the air and can make something out of nothing when he gains possession.
- An asset and playmaker both in defensive backfield and on special teams. Can contribute on an NFL team returning kicks if nothing else.
- Very undersized at 5-foot 8, 190-pounds.
- His aggression is an asset, but can also create problems for him.
- Is very fast, but sometimes can’t catch up to his own speed. Too often gets over-extended on plays.
- Needs to do a better job of consistently wrapping up and not going for highlight hits.
- Targets players too high. Needs to tackle ball carrier lower.
- Already has a penchant for penalties due to over-physical play, and NFL rules are designed to coddle receivers and quarterbacks. Could be flagged often at next level.
- Too often bites on play fakes and play action. Recovery speed has negated this in the ACC, but there’s just a tad more speed at the next level.
- Could be a liability going against outside receivers at next level. May be forced to play solely nickel.
- Is good at multiple positions, but isn’t great at any.
2013 Season Outlook
Joyner started his Seminoles career at CB, then switched to SS for his sophomore and junior seasons, and is now back at CB for his senior year. He’s started the season off well, racking up 18 tackles, two sacks and a PBU through three games, but all three opponents have been weak. Moving forward, Joyner will have some good match-ups against Maryland (Stefon Diggs), Clemson (Sammy Watkins), Miami (Allen Hurns) and Florida (Trey Burton).
In terms of NFL prospects, Joyner is a boom or bust type of prospect. He moved back to CB for his senior year to improve his draft stock, but he might not have the size to play there unless he’s in nickel. SS is still a possibility, but it’s getting rarer and rarer for safeties under 5-foot 10 to make much of an impact. Considering how well he reads the run, and how impactful he can be against it, I think he’s ideally suited for nickel back. That way he’ll always be matched up against a slot receiver, where his size is less of an issue, and he can be a force stopping the outside run (like read option).
2014 NFL Draft Projection: Mid-to-late second round. If he runs sub 4.4, could slide into late first round.
Film Watched: v. Pitt (2013), v. Northern Illinois (2012), v. Miami (2010, 2011, 2012), v. Florida (2011, 2012), v. Oklahoma (2011).