Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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
Reasoning: As with Arrion Springs, second-year cornerback Justin Layne was recently placed on the reserve/Covid-19 list. We do not know whether he tested positive or was exposed to somebody who was positive, but either way, he will have to remain in quarantine for some time until he is medically cleared, so he will miss a bit of training camp.
I’m sure that Justin Layne had plans to make significant headway in his second season in the NFL, after the Steelers selected him in the third round last April. He was the sixth cornerback for most of last season, but only eventually surpassed Artie Burns due to their respective performances on special teams.
Burns is now gone, but he is still no better than fifth on the depth chart, behind starters Joe Haden and Steven Nelson, slot Mike Hilton, and top backup to everything else Cameron Sutton. Could he have possibly gained ground if he had OTAs and minicamp to get in front of the coaches? Possibly.
Now, with the relatively brief window in the leadup to the 2020 season, Layne finds himself in a position in which he has to be quarantined away from his team after being placed on the reserve/Covid-19 list. If he tested positive, it could be a while before it is able to return.
The good news is that there won’t be much going on until April 12, which is when actual practices begin. The start of training camp activity will consist of strength and conditioning work, with a couple of walkthroughs here and there.
Even in quarantine, he should still presumably be able to participate in Zoom meetings, so he shouldn’t really fall behind in that regard, but needless to say, whenever a young player with ground to make up is missing out on opportunities, it hurts his cause.