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Will Justin Layne be the Steelers breakout star of 2020?

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Breaking down every player one-by-one alphabetically on the Steelers current 90-man roster

Pittsburgh Steelers v New York Jets Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

We are on part 51 of our 90-part series — assuming the roster does not change before we are complete — which will break down each player of the Steelers current 90-man roster in alphabetical order. This series will encompass many aspects of each players game and their current role with the team. At the end, I’ll give some projected stats as well as their chances to make the 53-man roster.

Let’s take a look at a 2019 third-round pick:

Justin Layne

Position: CB
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 192 lbs
College: Michigan State
Draft: 3rd Round, 83rd overall in 2019


2019 stats

10 Games Played
0 Starts
3 Tackles


Contract remaining

Expires in 2022
$905,545 salary cap number (0.5% of total cap)
$230,545 Dead money
$675,000 Savings if cut


Likelihood of making the roster

Likely. I hesitate to give Layne a lock strictly because of how much he played in 2019 and the shear amount of depth at the corner position. That being said I do expect a large and expanded role for the sophomore corner. Of course starters Joe Haden and Steven Nelson are incumbents at each starting spot, but Cameron Sutton and Mike Hilton also have their names listed above Layne heading into 2020. There will be roughly two more spots up for grabs at corner, however, Layne has a lengthy distance between his name and the number 6 cornerback.


2020 projection

I fully believe if either Haden or Nelson go down with an injury, Cam Sutton will kick out and cover the spot with Layne picking up the reps left from Sutton. Furthermore, as a veteran, Layne will be looked upon to make a bigger impact on special teams. I expect more from Justin Layne in 2020 especially because of his high draft status in 2019, and how little he has been used. The Steelers will want to know what they got in the Michigan State alum.

He’s quickly been forgotten about as a third-round pick just a year ago. Hopefully Layne isn't just another corner that the Steelers whiffed on.


Projected stats:

16 Games Played
0 Starts
12 Tackles
1 Pass Defensed


Summary

If Justin Layne is picking up starts then it probably means that the secondary is ravaged by injury. For once the Steelers have the depth at corner, and if it came down to it, I have no problem giving Layne a start over picking up someone on the free agent market. It will be interesting how much playing time Layne gets because of how high he was drafted just a year ago. Typically third-round picks make (fairly) immediate impacts, however Layne is in an interesting spot based on the pecking order of this secondary. The 2021 season looks to be the year Layne truly breaks out and in 2022 he could be replacing either Joe Haden or Steven Nelson as a starter at the position.


Previously Highlighted

Ola Adeniyi
Marcus Allen
Tyson Alualu
Trajan Bandy
Zach Banner
J.T. Barrett
John Battle
Jordan Berry
Saeed Blacknall
Breon Borders
Chris Boswell
Antoine Brooks Jr.
Isaiah Buggs
Devin Bush
Deon Cain
Kam Canaday
Chase Claypool
Josiah Coatney
James Conner
Anthony Coyle
Jordan Dangerfield
Amara Darboh
Carlos Davis
David DeCastro
Christian DiLauro
Kevin Dotson
Bud Dupree
Eric Ebron
Terrell Edmunds
Trey Edmunds
Matt Feiler
Minkah Fitzpatrick
Zach Gentry
Ulysees Gilbert III
Derwin Gray
Joe Haden
J.C. Hassenauer
Quadree Henderson
Dewayne Hendrix
Cam Heyward
Alex Highsmith
Mike Hilton
Devlin Hodges
John Houston
Anthony Johnson
Diontae Johnson
Jarron Jones
John Keenoy
Tyree Kinnel
Christian Kuntz