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2019 Steelers Draft: Justin Layne has the swagger to back up his athleticism

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To get to know the Steelers’ 2019 NFL Draft picks I reached out to their college affiliates to get to know them a bit more!

Ohio State v Michigan State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

When any NFL team drafts new players, fans want to learn as much as they can about those particular prospects. What do they do well? What do they struggle with? How about their highlight reel?

For me, I like to talk to people who actually know them best, and this is one of the best aspects of working for SB Nation. After the Steelers selected their full compliment of players, I reached out to the writers who covered them in college to get to know them a little better.

In my opinion, these writers are the ones who watch them every play, every week for multiple years. So, today we hear from Kyle Thele from The Only Colors (SB Nation’s Michigan State website) as he gives us the lowdown on Pittsburgh’s second third round selection Justin Layne.

See the interview below:

1. Layne was a WR converted into a DB. Has this transition been a smooth one for Layne, or a struggle at times?

The transition has been pretty smooth. Layne is a phenomenal athlete. The move wasn’t forced or rushed, to his credit he earned all the accolades he received. With that being said, it was a transition. He didn’t just decide one day that he was going to be a corner. Layne grew into the role and slowly took on a bigger and bigger responsibility.

2. Layne had himself a tremendous combine and turned plenty of heads. What are his strengths as a DB at a big-time school like Michigan State?

Athletically, he is a perfect fit as a corner. Extremely quick and can stay in a receivers pocket throughout a route. MSU’s defense relies on corners being left on an island to slow receivers and Layne was perfect in that role. His stats don’t look gaudy mostly because quarterbacks just weren’t testing him.

3. On the flip side, what are some areas of Layne’s game which need improved upon?

Layne isn’t strong enough yet to body some of the bigger receivers in the NFL. He depends on his speed to be in the right position, so if he’s caught out of place, the receiver will stay open. Also, MSU corners have historically had issues with penalties after moving on to the NFL. They get away with a lot more in college than they do on Sundays.

4. While Layne has talked about having a chip on his shoulder not being drafted until the third round, what is his demeanor like on the field? Is he hard-nosed and mouthy? Or is a player who lets his play speak for him?

He’s a corner, so he’s going to have an attitude. Fans should be upset if he didn’t. He is extremely confident in himself and most definitely not shy. But in no way would I say any of that hindered his play. He was right to be confident and he should have a chip on his shoulder.

5. If you could sum Layne up into one word, or sentence, what would it be?

No Fly Zone: 2018. Layne lived up to the responsibilities of being the next shut-down corner at MSU.


A huge shout out to Kyle for taking the time to answer my questions! Be sure to check back to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on throughout the offseason.