Rams add defensive back and running back on second day of draft

News-DemocratMay 9, 2014 

— The St. Louis Rams selected versatile defensive back Lamarcus Joyner in the second round and highly productive Auburn running back Tre Mason in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft on Friday night.

After addressing their offensive and defensive lines in the first round, the St. Louis Rams turned to their offensive and defensive backfields in the second and third rounds.

The Rams traded with the Buffalo Bills to move up three spots from No. 44 to No. 41 to take Joyner. The Bills received a fifth-round pick in the deal.

"We suspected that there was a team that was ahead of us that had an interest in him, so we had to get above them," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "As it was, they traded down after he left, so I think we were right. We didn't want to lose him. He is just an outstanding player. He played just all over their defense.

The 5-foot-8 184-pound Joyner played at cornerback, free safety and strong safety in college.

He projects as a nickelback and a free safety for the Rams.

"He is a plug-in Day 1 nickleback," Fisher said. "He's very, very aggressive. Tackles well. He has average ball skills. We'll work on that."

Asked where he preferred to play, Joyner said, "Whatever coach wants me to do, I'm going to do it. If I have to pack on 100 pounds and move to offensive guard, I'll do it. I'll do whatever I have to do to help the organization."

Joyner doesn't see his lack of size as a detriment.

"It's all in the heart, man," Joyner said. "Life is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical. Whatever I believe me in my heart ... whenever I am on the field, I am the best and I am the biggest."

Joyner prides himself on being feisty.

"I feel like no one wants to be physical for 60 minutes," Joyner said. "It's like fighting someone in the boxing ring. You punch that guy with all you have, and he looks you in the eye and says, 'That's all you have.' That takes the spirit out of someone. I play physical football because I know no man is going to want to play 60 minutes like I am. My mentality is that I am going to make the guy across the line from me quit before I do."

As a senior, Joyner played cornerback. He registered 69 tackles, second most on the team, 5.5 sacks, the most of any defensive back in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and two interceptions.

For the year, Joyner allowed just 18 of the 65 passes targeted to his area to be completed.

Joyner was a consensus first team All-American, the seventh defensive back to earn that honor in Seminoles history. He joined a group that included Deion Sanders, LeRoy Butler and Terrell Buckley.

Joyner also has experience as a kickoff returner, averaging 24.2 yards per return over his four seasons at Florida State.

Joyner will be reunited with fellow Florida State cornerback Greg Reid, who signed with the Rams during the offseason.

Mason will be reunited with Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, who was selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the Rams on Thursday night.

"When I first called him, he couldn't believe it," Mason said of calling Robinson to tell him that they were going to be teammates again. "He told, 'Stop lying.' I told him, 'Just wait a couple of minutes and you'll see that I am not lying.'"

Mason, whose father Vincent is a member of the Grammy Award-winning hip-hop group "De La Soul," rushed for a school-record 1,816 yards and 23 touchdowns last season in earning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year honors. He led the SEC with an average of 129.7 rushing per game.

The Rams will use Mason as a change of pace to starting running back Zac Stacy.

"Obviously the numbers speak for themselves," Fisher said of Mason. "He was a guy that we just couldn't pass up at that point."

The 5-foot-8, 207-pound Mason rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns against Missouri in the SEC Championship game and a 195 yards against Florida in the BCS championship game.

"That was one the best games of my career," Mason said of his performance against Missouri. "I just did all I could to get that win, and I had a good time playing against the team from Missouri."

Mason had this message for football fans in Missouri: "I would love to tell them that I am sorry for what I did in college, but hey, now I'll do it at this level for them."

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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