2022 Stock Watch – CB Justin Layne – Stock Even

Justin Layne

Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.

Player: CB Justin Layne

Stock Value: Even

Reasoning: The former third-round draft pick has yet to make meaningful strides with regards to his defensive capabilities and participation, although he continues to factor prominently on special teams.

There was some debate at the start of the offseason about who would be the Steelers’ top reserve outside cornerback, between Justin Layne and James Pierre. It never proved to be much of a competition, with Pierre clearly winning, though he would eventually get benched from defense entirely for the final month and a half of the season due to his struggles.

As for Layne, he finished the 2021 season—his third in the league since being drafted in the third round out of Michigan State—logging just 28 snaps, seeing some time as an emergency dime back in games in which the secondary had injury issues and needed depth.

The majority of his defensive snaps came in Weeks 13 and 14 in games against the Baltimore Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings, playing nine snaps in each. These were the games after Pierre’s benching and before Joe Haden returned from injury.

While he only played a couple dozens snaps on defense, he played 245 snaps on special teams, where he recorded 12 tackles. He played on both the kick and punt coverage units, and participated on the punt return unit as well.

The 2022 season will be the final year of his rookie contract. It’s fair to say that if he fails to make significant headway as a defensive player this year, he may not have a future in Pittsburgh beyond his original deal.

Teams always need special teams players, and Layne is a decent one, though not a great one, but this is an area of the team in which the coaching staff and front office knows that they need help. They may not have enough depth this year to really challenge his roster spot, but in two years, that’s another story.

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