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Which Rams May Shift Positions in 2017?

Posted Apr 11, 2017

DB Lamarcus Joyner, OLB Robert Quinn, and OL Rob Havenstein are three players in line for a position change under the Rams new coaching staff.

With the Rams’ new coaching staff bringing fresh offensive and defensive systems, there will be a few players shifting positions on their respective units.

One of the more significant changes should be for defensive back Lamarcus Joyner, who is set to see time at free safety during Los Angeles’ offseason program. Joyner has primarily played as a slot corner in his first three pro seasons, occasionally working on the outside in a pinch.

“He shows up [on film] and you want to find as many ways to get him on the field as possible,” head coach Sean McVay said of Joyner on Monday. “Whether that’s him at nickel — which I think he’s one of the elite players at that spot in this league — or the safety, I think you see an instinctual player that has a great feel for the game. I think our coaching staff has done a nice job targeting him as a player that we have to make sure that he’s on the grass, he’s competing.”

When L.A. signed defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman, it gave the club some flexibly to move Joyner. The USC product has also primarily played at slot corner for Buffalo over the last four years, making a pair of interceptions in last year’s Rams-Bills matchup in October.

Shifting Joyner to free safety also fills a need internally, as Maurice Alexander is expected to shift to strong safety following T.J. McDonald’s departure to Miami in free agency.

While moving to safety will be an adjustment for Joyner, it’s one McVay sounded confident the defensive back can make. The head coach noted much of what Joyner has been doing as a slot corner translates to what he’ll be asked to do in his new role.

“I think our coaching staff has done a nice job figuring out ways we can make that transition smooth,” McVay said. “I think it’s just getting comfortable — he is an instinctual player. And just understanding some of those exit angles, some of those break points, based on starting from 15 yards off as opposed to down where you’re 10-yards within the line of scrimmage, will be a little bit different. But I think you’ve seen examples of great guys be able to do both across the league and we’re hoping that he’ll be able to do the same thing for us.”

Robert Quinn has also been brought up throughout the offseason as someone in line for a position change. With the Rams’ shift to a 3-4 base defensive front, Quinn is now officially listed on the Rams’ roster as an outside linebacker instead of a defensive end. Nevertheless, his role role is expected to remain largely the same.

“For all intents and purposes, Robert will line up as the Will linebacker, but he’s a rush player. He’ll play a similar role to what DeMarcus Ware did in Denver for Wade the last couple of years,” McVay said. “I think he’s going to still be, he’s going to be an elite rusher in this league for years and that’s what we’re hoping to do with him moving forward.”

“From my understanding, what we’re going to ask him to do is going to be pretty much the same — do you and do your ‘Bernie’ and all that stuff,” middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said. “It’ll be good, we’re definitely looking to get him back and stay healthy.”

Offensively, the Rams have made it clear players will be shifting along the offensive line. Signing left tackle Andrew Whitworth prompted L.A. to move Greg Robinson over to the right side to compete at tackle, which both McVay and general manager Les Snead addressed at the Combine. But Robinson’s move is expected to kick Rob Havenstein inside to guard. Havenstein has started 28 games at right tackle since his selection in the second round of the 2015 draft.

“I think when he was coming out, you looked at Rob as a potential guy to be able to move inside and do some of those things. Really, going back two years, I thought he’s put some excellent tape out there as far as playing that right tackle position,” McVay said, adding Havenstein has a strong ability to process football information. “I think he and Greg working in coordination, in unison, will be able to help both of those guys.”

Based on his comments on Monday, it appears McVay will begin the offseason program with Whitworth at left tackle, Rodger Saffold at left guard, John Sullivan at center, Havenstein at right guard, and Robinson at right tackle. McVay also mentioned Jamon Brown could be in the mix for the offensive line, which could change plenty between now and Week 1 in September.

“I think we’ve got some good depth up front and I’m excited to see how these guys process that information and then translate it to the grass once we get the OTAs started in Phase III,” McVay said.