Is Justin Layne the future at outside cornerback for the Steelers?
As we head into OTAs this week, beginning Tuesday at 10:25 a.m., we'll get a much better picture of what Layne can and cannot do on the field. Chris Carter provided his analysis from Layne's college tape in a recent edition of "Classroom," and Layne certainly shows promise throughout the breakdown.
There's stuff like this:
But there's also this:
Layne spoke confidently about his skill set, but he steadied his focus on one objective: Improve. Everywhere. Every day.
"Right now, I just want to show them I'm willing to get better," Layne was saying at the Rooney Complex. "I'm willing to keep learning, just keep getting better every day right now is the main thing."
While the tape shows potential — and many analysts expected Layne to go higher than his third-round selection — Layne understands there are knocks on his game. He had just one interception in each of his seasons at Michigan State for three total in his collegiate career. That, to Layne, is an area of emphasis as he transitions to the pro level.
"I didn't have that many touches on the ball, as far as interceptions," Layne said. "I would probably say that's the main thing. I was breaking it up. That's the main thing."
In addition to his grounded approach there, Layne also carries a little extra fire to the gridiron. He feels he's better than a third-round player, and he's ready to show that, too.
"I keep a little chip on my shoulder, but ultimately I'm where I'm supposed to be at," Layne said. "God got me. I'm not really too worried about where I got drafted or whatever. I'm here."
Layne enters an ideal situation. The Steelers have Joe Haden holding down one starting position and they signed free agent Steven Nelson from the Chiefs to lock down the other side. While Layne says he feels he can play inside, his game is built for the outside, and that is where he figures to see the majority of his time.
On the surface, this could look like Layne is the odd man out — and right now, he is — but it gives him valuable time to grow and develop before being thrust into a starting role too early. We saw how that worked out for Artie Burns and his confidence. And really, the depth chart doesn't much matter to Layne.
"I'm just playing football," Layne said. "We're in camp right now. We're trying to get better."
Joining Layne in the black and gold for the first time is No. 10 overall pick Devin Bush, who the Steelers moved up 10 positions in the first round of the draft to select. The two players were bitter rivals in college, Layne at Michigan State and Bush at Michigan, but Layne assures us that's all put to rest.
Here is Fox’s video of Michigan State players linked in arms, approaching Michigan players pregame.
U-M says Spartans clotheslined Lawrence Marshall and Devin Bush, and ripped off Lavert Hill’s headphones. pic.twitter.com/kcPtDElFch
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) October 20, 2018
Not only are the two professionals, they actually trained together leading up to the draft.
"It's kinda weird, but I mean, Bush, that's my guy," Layne said. "I trained with him before the combine and everything, so me and him got a good friendship going on. He's a good leader. He's going to be a good player. Bush is just Bush; I mean, he's a dog. I'm not too worried about him."
Listen to a short session with Layne from the Rooney Complex here:
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