Scout's Tales: Lamarcus Joyner and Tre Mason

Posted Apr 17, 2015

Sean Gustus on scouting the SEC and Joyner and Mason.

There are numerous ways NFL teams acquire players, and the Rams’ scouting staff is always hard at work trying to find the next guy who can help them win. In Scout’s Tales, we’ll visit with members of Les Snead’s personnel department and they’ll share stories of how the process brought certain current Rams to St. Louis.

Sean Gustus on scouting the SEC and Joyner and Mason.

In my role as our Southeast area scout, I cover South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. There are always a lot of guys coming from this area. There’s a lot of good football with the big ACC and SEC schools in the region and they have a lot of talented players. I tend to have a very deep prospect pool down here.

Most of the other regions are bigger from a geographical standpoint. Last year I had North Carolina and I went into Tennessee a little bit. As a scouting staff, we decided to minimalize the area a little this year because the volume is so great. There are a lot of guys who get drafted from my current four states, as there are across the country. But if you look at the last few drafts, there’s a heavy concentration of guys from my specific region. Last year alone, the top four picks in the draft came from the four states that I cover: Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina, Greg Robinson from Auburn, Blake Bortles from Central Florida and Sammy Watkins from Clemson. The number of states might be less, but you’re dealing with a lot of prospects in that smaller area.

I previously scouted the Northeast region. Being in the Southeast, it doesn’t make the job different. It’s just the volume is bigger. In the Northeast, you might have 15-20 prospects that you see in a week on your school visits. Here, you could have that at one school that you’re writing. You multiply that by five schools, that’s a pretty good amount of reports throughout the week that you have to get done. It’s just a lot deeper here.

In the Southeast, you have some of the premier programs in college football, from Alabama and Auburn to Georgia, Florida State, Clemson, South Carolina. In just the state of Florida alone, you’ve got Florida State, Florida and Miami. Then Central Florida has had a good program and South Florida is on the rise. There’s a lot of good football down here.

While the big schools may steal some of the headlines, so to speak, there are some smaller schools in this region that have real NFL talent. There are guys that might have been late bloomers coming out of high school that make a good case for themselves as an NFL prospect. You look at a guy like Andre Roberts with the Redskins. He comes from The Citadel, which is in Charleston, South Carolina. Troy has had guys in the past, and although they’re having a down year, they’ve produced first-round picks in the past ten years like DeMarcus Ware. You have the smaller schools that have guys that might not have gone to the top school in the state but they found their niche and they’ve got an opportunity to make their case at the next level.

It’s just as important to spend your time and do a thorough job at the smaller schools. At the big programs, they know the process. Everything is kind of laid out for you when you visit. At some of the smaller schools, sometimes you have to do a little more digging, but you can still have the same type of reward. Whether a guy is from Florida State or Florida A&M, if the guy can play, he can play. You have to do your due diligence regardless of the size of school.

I consider it an honor to get to scout this region. I don’t take the responsibility lightly. It’s not pressure, but when you do this region, you know you need to get it right because of the number of top prospects and draftable prospects you’re dealing with. I don’t take that for granted. You can’t go into it halfhearted because I know the importance of this area.

Last year, the Rams used three of our top four picks on guys from the Southeast.  Two of those guys were Tre Mason from Auburn and Lamarcus Joyner from Florida State.

With Tre, he was as steady as they come in terms of a runner. The game that stood out to me was the SEC Championship against Missouri. To see him withhold the punishment of 40-plus carries and lead his team, that solidified things for me in terms of him being an every-down back. That game made me realize that he was someone who could be a three-down back and be very productive.

Lamarcus was one of my favorite players to watch last year. Even though he’s a smaller guy in terms of the measurables you typically use for a defensive back, he plays a lot bigger than his size would indicate. He was all over the field. He was a safety earlier on, but he moved to corner. I remember the Clemson game last year: Lamarcus dominated from the first play to the end. He had a forced fumble on the first play of the game. You saw this guy who was smaller in stature but he was the biggest guy on the field. He was facing a team that had Sammy Watkins, Taj Boyd and Martavis Bryant, who was drafted by the Steelers. That was a prolific offense, and Lamarcus stood out as one of the best players, if not the best player, on the field that day.

Especially with the top guys, sometimes you have to do a little extra work to get a good feel for their character. With these two, we were fortunate because they’re both really good guys. Lamarcus is from Miami, and Miami guys tend to be stereotyped as flashy guys, but he was the furthest thing from it. He was all business. He wanted to be great. He did everything in his power while at FSU to be great. He stood out as a leader there. He was a guy that the strength coach couldn’t break. When he entered that building, he was all business. He’s a football guy who doesn’t go out a lot. He was all about football.

Tre was similar to Lamarcus. It makes my job easier when you don’t have to do all the digging to find the dirt and to worry if they’ll embarrass you if they come to your team. That’s an added plus if they’re good football players and good citizens. You’ve got to realize you’re dealing with 18-22 year old kids becoming men. They may have made some mistakes, but they’re in the process of growing up. When you get guys like that who have been consistent and kept their nose clean, who you can tell have had people in their corner, it makes our job a little easier.