Lamarcus Joyner is not the best player on Florida State's defense. He's not the most talented either. Joyner is not the most experienced and no, he doesn't have the highest draft prospects either. Although from the unbridled praise he has been receiving in practice, you are forgiven for believing otherwise. But Lamarcus Joyner is the most important player to the 2011 edition of the FSU defense.
How can that be? Depth, scheme, and versatility. Lose Brandon Jenkins? Replace him with the impressive JUCO Tank Carradine. Nigel Bradham goes down? Enter Jeff Luc. Lose a starting corner? In comes another NFL-bound corner. But lose Joyner, and FSU fans can kiss that "really good, dominant defense" goodbye. The dropoff between Joyner and his replacement is so much larger than that of the dropoff between any other defensive starter and reserve, that it makes him the easy choice to be the most important defensive player.
The safeties were Florida State's weakest defensive group last season. FSU returns both starters from last season and still elected to give one of their spots to Lamarcus Joyner, who had been playing corner. The returning starters, Terrance Parks and Nick Moody, will battle each other for one starting position.
The reason? Ability and versatility. Joyner has much more athletic ability than Parks or Moody, particularly in the areas of speed and agility. He gives Florida State Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops the ability to trust his secondary, and to play a greater variety of coverages. Plus, Joyner patrolling centerfield allows the winner of the Parks/Moody battle for the other spot, to play a reduced role more befitting of their talent level, which is that of a role player on a championship-caliber defense.
Florida State's defense would have improved this year even if Joyner had not moved to safety, but not nearly to the heights at which many currently expect.