If I had to choose your average NFL drafnik’s favorite term, it would be “Great value pick.”
A great value pick is obviously a player that is selected a little—or even much—later than he was projected to go before the draft. An opposite example of a great value pick would be Duke’s Daniel Jones, who was selected sixth overall by the Giants—about 11 spots sooner than he probably needed to be drafted (the Giants also had the 17th pick in the first round on Thursday).
Perhaps a good example of a great value pick is Justin Layne, cornerback, Michigan State, who the Steelers selected with their second pick of the third round (83rd, overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft. According to most pre-draft projections, Layne was taken anywhere from 20-30 spots later than he perhaps should have been. Why? It’s hard to say. Why did Byron Murphy and Greedy Williams, two corners expected to go in the first round, last until the second?
All I know is Layne could be spotted near the middle of most top-10 cornerback ratings leading into the draft, which explains his pre-draft projections.
In addition to his pre-draft projections, another thing that stands out about Layne is his height: 6’2”. For a Steelers secondary that has a history of employing cornerbacks in the sub-6’ range, that is rather refreshing and unique. Height doesn’t mean a hill of beans if a corner has poor technique and easily loses track of his receivers in the open field, but that extra inch or two sure can come in handy when knocking down passes that normally would be just out of the reach of your average 5’10” cornerback. That may explain Layne’s 15 passes defensed last year, alone.
Speaking of receivers, Layne used to be one as recently as the beginning of his college football journey at Michigan State before he converted to the role that earned him a shot at a career in the National Football League.
It’s not easy to make the transition from one position to another at the highest level of college football, but it helps to have a plus football IQ, as stated by Layne’s NFL.com Draft profile.
A plus football IQ also comes in handy when trying to learn various responsibilities in the secondary, which Layne will no doubt have to during a rookie season that could perhaps be an audition for greater things down the road—namely as a replacement for Joe Haden in 2020.
Too soon to speak of such things, right now, of course. With the Steelers very poor recent history of drafting and/or developing cornerbacks, it is quite foolish to talk in absolutes about one they picked in the third round.
But, again, the Steelers got great value in Justin Layne. Now it’s up to them—and him—to turn that value into an asset for the secondary.