Sep 2, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA;Florida State Seminoles defensive back Lamarcus Joyner (20) returns a kick-off against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Lamarcus Joyner has been a corner, a safety and a hybrid of the two in his time at Florida State. He makes up for his lack of size with a never ending motor and not being afraid to throw his body around. This style can be feast or famine at times, but Joyner has certainly made his share of huge plays in his time in Tuscaloosa. This season, Joyner has been somewhat of a hybrid player that translates to a slot corner in the NFL but is probably looked at like a star or rover or a similar title in the Seminole defensive scheme. He does a little bit of everything and has been put in positions to make big time plays, some of which have completely changed the complexion of games.
Joyner is not going to get any bigger and the size is going to be a concern, but he plays all out all of the time and he can find a home in the NFL as a slot corner if he cannot make it as a free safety. He has tremendous acceleration, quickness and can play in coverage even if he has some size issues at times, but he can also come on the blitz and does a terrific job in that role. On top of everything else, Joyner should be a big time addition to special teams coverage teams but could also be a returner. Joyner projects as a fringe top 100 pick as his upside is somewhat limited, but he has value in that he has a role he can immediately step into once he gets into the NFL.
Vitals & Build
Joyner is listed at 5’8” 190lbs and while he is short, his low center of gravity enables him to have fantastic feet and body control. He accelerates extremely well and does have impressive top end speed. And at that height, he is built extremely thick and has a great deal of strength like a running back but he does not always play in a way that enables him to show what he can do. One of the things that will hurt Joyner for some in addition to his lack of height is the fact that there is not much athletic potential for him going forward. For the most part, he will enter the NFL as the player he is going to be from an athletic standpoint, but whichever team takes him will get a player with a nonstop motor and an aggressive player who never gives up on plays as well.
Joyner functions by playing full speed all the time and throwing his body around with reckless abandon. As a result, he makes plays and can be a good player on the field, but fundamentals can fall by the way side and too often, his tackling is where it suffers most. Because he is playing so fast, he is often out of control and does not break down to tackle. Rather, he ends up throwing his body at tackles and trying to catch up with technique as best he can when it comes to wrapping up the ball carrier.
Despite his lack of height, he can end up tackling high, around the shoulders or end up trying to shoulder bomb the ball carrier. The fact he does not break down will result in some swings and misses on tackle attempts. If he can find a way to incorporate more technique in his tackling and find a way to slow himself down before making plays, he would be a better tackler and have better results. The problem is with a player like Joyner, he has likely played his whole life with this type of style and used it as a means to survive with his height, so getting him to use better tackling technique might be difficult: the times he does show good form, his speed and momentum enable him to make some good tackles with some impressive results, particularly with his power.
In run defense, Joyner does a fantastic job of reading and diagnosing plays. He comes downhill from the back end of the defense at full speed and is able to contribute and make plays. Joyner shows the ability to occasionally negotiate blocks and find a way to make plays, but he is inconsistent in this area and can be overwhelmed at times.
His compact build actually works to his advantage here as he has a natural leverage advantage and guys tend to have to bend down to try to block him, which can be a difficult adjustment. In addition, his feet and body control can get him out of trouble quickly.
Joyner’s size does not prevent him from being an effective cog in the running game. He is extremely aggressive and willing. His instincts are good and he takes the right angles to the ball carrier. Joyner also seems to have shown a real ability to contribute against the read option, following the right keys and having the speed and mindset to chase down plays. The only thing that hurts Joyner is his technique as a tackler and his length to get to the play.
As a safety, Joyner tends to work from deep and come up and make plays, but he does have experience in the box as well as in man coverage. From a physical standpoint, he has the ability to contribute in man coverage, but he needs more experience to get more comfortable. In zone, Joyner has great range and can fly around the field and make plays but obviously has a fair amount of trouble making plays on the ball while in the air when opponents have a size advantage.
Joyner has range and is able to intimidate opponents by being able to separate them from the football as a hitter. This comes with an amount of risk as it can come with a personal foul penalty, but done correctly, it can be clean and send a message. He will occasionally bite on fakes and give up plays over the top, but he does have good speed to make up ground. His lack of length becomes problematic in that area, however.
Joyner’s still a little raw in man coverage and relies more on instinct than technique to operate. He wins on hustle more than anything, but if he can get more comfortable and employ better technique, he has the athleticism to function and stay in man. Certainly, he will be at a disadvantage with size, but he is able to undercut routes and make plays on the football. It also makes him tough to block when he is attacking the run. In some respects, he is perfect for the typical slot receiver that he would see in the NFL between his athleticism, hips and strength, but it will take further coaching and adjustment from Joyner.
Although his size can make it difficult to show them off all the time, Joyner has pretty good ball skills. His hand eye coordination is good and he tends to make the most of his opportunities when he has the chance. He has made himself into someone that offenses have to account for in order to avoid making a huge mistake his way.
Joyner has shown a knack for being able to read the hands and eyes of receivers when his back is to the quarterback and he cannot see the ball coming. In part because he is so short, this is key for him to be successful, because he has an incredibly difficult time going up and defending tall receivers and knocking the ball away. As a result, he is better off reading where the ball is going and timing it so he can attack their hands when the ball comes in or trying to rip it out as they try to secure it on the way down.
When he is able to get the ball in his hands, he is absolutely a threat to take it back the other way and put the offense in great position. He is so quick in the open field with long speed that is not afraid to be aggressive and try to make big plays.
Blitzing off the Edge
This is an area where Joyner’s height works to his advantage. It allows him to almost hide when he creeps up to the line of scrimmage or comes off the edge from the second level. He is run through linemen like they are trees and he can be tough to find and block.
Joyner’s acceleration is incredible and he picks up a ton of speed in almost no time whatsoever. His overall speed is good too and he is more than aggressive enough where he can get the momentum and use his strength to take the quarterback to the ground. Because Joyner is low to the ground, he does demand more than a nudge to stop him and while he is not someone who is going to beat a block, he is someone who requires a blocker to stop him. Joyner does a great job of disguising what he is doing and has been able to catch more than a few opponents by surprise and create big plays.
Joyner has shown to be an adequate but unspectacular kick returner for the Seminoles. Being a punt returner is far more valuable and there is nothing that would suggest Joyner should not be able to function in that role as well given the opportunity. He will occasionally make some bad choices in terms of backtracking and trying to make plays that are not there and losing yards in the process, but he is effective overall and his aggressiveness tends to pay off going for bigger plays.
Because of his issues with size, Joyner is going to basically have to find a way to contribute on every special teams unit possible in the NFL. His aggressive style, raw speed and agility make him a good prospect to player on coverage units, but he has experience returning as well.
Joyner’s best fit might be as a slot corner. He has the small area quickness and physical style of play to stay with opponents, but he has been tremendous as a blitz option off the edge from there as well. Joyner could end up finding a starting job as a free safety with everything he can do in the mold of Tyrann Mathieu.
Beyond that, Joyner can contribute on special teams. He can return kicks and it seems like he should be an option to return punts, but he looks like he could be terrific on coverage units for kickoffs and punts as well.
As mentioned earlier, Joyner could end up resembling Mathieu from the Arizona Cardinals and LSU. Joyner is not the athlete that Mathieu is but has the same kind of mentality and relentless desire to be great as Mathieu does with a nose for the football. If Mathieu could not make it as a starter at free safety, he likely becomes a slot corner which is the role that Joyner could have. Both are also able to help a team on special teams.
Joyner backs a ton of talent into a tiny package and offers a lot to NFL teams, so it would hardly be a shock if he goes slightly earlier than people expect. He has the potential to start but might be a real threat as a utility, big nickel option as well as special teams. Joyner projects as someone who goes right around the top 100 area for a team willing to be creative with all of the things he can do, but it would not be a huge surprise to see him go higher. Even if Joyner is not a starter in the NFL, he could be a terrific asset for a team that brings his style of play every week that have made Seminoles fans love him during his career.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com