EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The 2014 NFL draft is still 14 days away. Before we get there, we'll take a look at a prospect or two in the draft who could be of interest to the St. Louis Rams.
By now we have covered most of the big names, so the focus here will be on vetting some potential additions beyond the top 10 of the draft.
Position: Defensive back
School: Florida State
Height/Weight: 5-8, 184 pounds
Projected round: 2
Pros: One of the most decorated defensive players in Florida State history, Joyner started every game in his final three seasons, finishing his career with 41 starts in 55 games. He was wildly productive for the Seminoles, showcasing the versatility to succeed at cornerback and safety. He is widely regarded as one of the most intelligent, instinctive players in the draft. High energy gym rat with a passion for film study and leadership ability in spades. Natural play-making ability and plays every play at full speed. A willing hitter in run support who is incredibly aggressive and physical, and solid in coverage because of his ability to diagnose plays and read quarterbacks.
Cons: Biggest drawback to Joyner is a lack of size and top end speed, which makes him something of a 'tweener at the next level. Lack of recovery speed and average hips make it hard to project him as an outsider corner in the NFL, which means a team will have to decide whether he's best used as a slot corner or at safety. Ball skills are fine, but ability to pull it in when thrown to him remains in question because he is not a natural hands catcher. Ran a decent 4.55-second 40-yard dash and has plenty of speed, but perhaps not enough to line up against faster wideouts on a consistent basis, leaving him limited in matchups.
Fit with Rams: The Rams have two serious needs in the secondary, a slot corner and a safety capable of playing more of a centerfield type of role to complement T.J. McDonald. In Joyner, the Rams might find the one player in this year's draft who could fill both needs. Joyner has experience in both spots, as well as an outside cornerback, but projects to a slot corner/safety role similar to what Tyrann Mathieu did for the Arizona Cardinals as a rookie in 2013. How much interest the Rams have in Joyner remains to be seen, but if they don't add help for the secondary in the first round, the team's second-round choice should be right in the range where Joyner is expected to come off the board. Full disclosure, Joyner is my favorite player to watch in this draft, and he would bring some much-needed leadership qualities to a young group of defensive backs.