The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the 2019 season much as they did the 2018 season, by allowing their playoff fate slip out of their grasp. Slow starts and slow finishes permeated both campaigns, with strong runs in between. But while the results were the same missing the playoffs, the means were quite different.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we. But that they still managed to go 8-8 without Ben Roethlisberger, and with the general quality of play that they faced along the way, I suppose things could have been worse.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2018 season.
Player: Justin Layne
Experience: 1 Year
Looping back to Justin Layne after skipping over him a couple of days ago, the third-round 2019 rookie draft pick had more or less the season that most reasonable outside viewers were expecting: a quiet one. with the Steelers having already gone out and signed Steven Nelson to start as a free agent, there was going to be no room for upward mobility anyway.
Layne only converted to the cornerback position once he got to college at Michigan State, and he was drafted as a true junior. It was anticipated that 2019 was essentially going to be a redshirt season for him, and the number of mental errors he made during the preseason all but confirmed that would be the case.
While he would spend a lot of time in the second half of the season playing on special teams, even surpassing Artie Burns for a gameday helmet because of that, he remained off the field when the defense was on it. Instead, he spent his time watching and learning, biding his time as he awaits an opportunity.
Will he have one in 2020? That is far from guaranteed. Joe Haden, Nelson, Mike Hilton, and dime defender Cameron Sutton all return for the Steelers this season, so at least entering the offseason process, he stands no better than fifth on the depth chart at cornerback.
Of course, a strong offseason and signs of obvious growth can always change things. There is a reason that the Steelers were interested in him and drafted him where they did, and that is because they think he will be able to play. And one thing about cornerbacks in today’s NFL is that it’s virtually impossible to have too many good ones.