Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: CB Justin Layne
Stock Value: Down
Primarily just to bring a little bit of balance to these proceedings—I don’t want to have everybody going up for a week at a time—let’s talk about rookie cornerback Justin Layne, who had a rough preseason debut late last week.
The third-round draft pick got the opportunity to start the game with Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Artie Burns, and Brian Allen all not playing—all of them were playing ahead of him this summer—opposite Cameron Sutton. He got exposed early and often.
Playing three years at Michigan State at cornerback, Layne was recruited to play wide receiver before converting to the defensive side of the ball. It was understood when he was drafted that he would be a work in progress, even if there were those, particularly Pro Football Focus, who were overly optimistic about his readiness to be an immediate contributor.
Layne spend much of the early portions of the game playing in off coverages, allowing too much of a cushion, which allowed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterbacks, from Jameis Winston to Ryan Griffin, to take everything that was in front of him for easy pickups.
After the game, the rookie admitted that he had the jitters early on, but he felt that he got more comfortable as the game went along and he got more reps under his belt against live competition. And against lower levels of competition. He did play the majority of the game, over 60 snaps.
There were a number of lows on the day for Layne, but there were also some positive moments, which we’ll try to take a look at a bit later in the week in a film session. Many are down on him right now, some even resorting to the bust label already, which is absurd.
Chances are high the 2019 season will essentially be a redshirt year for him. This is something we’ve talked about since he was drafted, so it shouldn’t be surprising if he looks like a player who needs a redshirt year. For starters, let’s see what he does on Saturday.