When the 5’8” Lamarcus Joyner came out of Florida State the sizeist in me was doubtful. Then, the Rams started using him in creative ways. I was intrigued enough to start gathering shares on the cheap. This was a successful endeavor for me. My peers were even envious of my foresight to see that this glorified nickelback could be IDP relevant. However, I felt undercut when the brilliant DC Wade Phillips made him essentially a full-time free safety. After much research about past free safeties in Phillips 3-4 base, I was jumping off the Joyner boat to explore fresh waters.
What I didn’t realize was that Joyner would still provide versatility. He allowed the Rams to stay in their base package versus three WR sets. His ability to play the nickel was a key wrinkle in their gameplan.
The Positive Effect:
Now Joyner has jumped ship and swam to the silver and black eye-patched ones up in northern California. In Oakland, Joyner will rotate with current safeties Karl Joseph and Erik Harris. Joyner’s versatility and Oakland’s lack of competent coverage players means he should see plenty of snaps. Hopefully, his experience can lend to the Raiders righting their defensive ship moving forward.
Joyner also has the swiftness to be that center fielder sweeper in single-high looks. His lateral slicing and play speed are an added bonus that Oakland should use to the fullest degree.
According to PFF via raiderswire.usatoday.com Joyner missed just five tackles in 2018. The five-year veteran also set career highs in solo tackles with 58 and assists with 20.
The Negative Effect:
Oakland will likely apply more focus on their pass rush than they will on finding a coverage linebacker. This is concerning because both Joyner and presumed starter Joseph are under 5-foot-11. I would expect teams on early downs to pressure the seams with big TEs (like Travis Kelce). Not only will this keep at least Joyner or Joseph out-of-the-box but it also open things up underneath and along the boundary.
Joyner was a top 40 safety in 2018. His running mate SS John Johnson was top five safety. This could be good news for Joseph. Obviously, we are talking about two different schemes but Joyner did his job on the back end. While his finishing spot isn’t that exciting he has been consistent. Joyner should likely see an 80% or more snap share.
Oakland DC Paul Guenther has done a good job keeping both his free and strong safeties IDP stats up. Guenther is also an understudy of Mike Zimmer and Marvin Lewis. Both fully understand the importance of sub-package and player versatility. This could be great news for Joyner, Joseph, and Harris. Don’t be surprised to see all three on the field at the same time. Joyner can function at FS or NB, Joseph should see snaps at SS or FS and Harris (6’3”/225) can filter in at OLB or SS.