Now that the 2020 training camp 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: Justin Layne
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: While it doesn’t appear likely that he is in much of any jeopardy in terms of his roster spot, we have heard very little of Justin Layne in his second offseason, and what we have heard has not been positive.
For some outlets, such as Pro Football Focus, Justin Layne was one of the steals of the 2019 NFL Draft. I believe they even argued that he could seize a starting role at some point during his rookie season—or at least take over on the outside with Steven Nelson moving inside for nickel play.
That didn’t happen. It doesn’t appear likely that he will get on the field this year, either, with Cameron Sutton clearly entrenched as the number four cornerback and the first man up at any position in the group. He has logged time on both the left and right outside spots, in the slot, and as a dime player.
As for Layne, he was an underclassman last year and only picked up cornerback once he came to college, so he was seen as a developmental player. Apparently he still needs development. According to the latest practice report, he did not fare well.
From Bob Labriola: “The Steelers receivers/quarterback were really targeting Justin Layne throughout the practice. James Washington beat him for a touchdown and grabbed a long ball later”.
Not what you want to hear from a young developing player, somebody that people are holding out hope for that he can be a starter down the road. One bad paragraph for one training camp practice in a highly unusual offseason is not going to define him, but when you hear so much about a player, you’d like it to be positive.
Truth be told, Layne is the sort of player who most benefits from having a full offseason. Yesterday, inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky said that he kept reminding his men that they lost two seasons’ worth of snaps this offseason, estimating that they log about 2000 snaps in the Spring. Without that integral development time, the learning curve slows.