3 reasons Justin Layne has been a draft bust for Steelers

Justin Layne #31 of the Pittsburgh Steelers(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Justin Layne #31 of the Pittsburgh Steelers(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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Here are three reasons why it isn’t too early to call Justin Layne a bust for the Steelers

Despite the Steelers signing Steven Nelson to the largest free-agent contract the team had ever given out in the middle of free agency, the team still opted to draft Justin Layne out of Michigan St. in the third round that year. Most analysts praised this move, as Layne was seen as a potential late first-round pick, but his play so far has been less than stellar. He finally got on the defensive field this year but has struggled to make an impact. Here are three reasons that it isn’t too early to call Layne a bust from the 2019 draft.

Defining a “bust”

To be clear, Layne has carved out a solid role on special teams so far in his career. He and James Pierre have become two of the better gunners in the league on punt coverage, and he has used his size and athleticism to excel there. He has been one of the best special teams’ players on this team. Unfortunately, as a third-round pick, the Steelers should expect more from him. If he was a late-round pick, simply becoming a core special teams’ player would be enough. That won’t cut it as a third-round pick though.

Just because his early play has been poor, that doesn’t mean the team should move on from him. They have him under contract for two more years, and he still serves a role for the special teams’ unit. Finally, while he can have a significant turnaround in the future, his early looks have made that seem like a longshot. As of now, he seems like a guy that will serve as a backup defender and quality special teamer. To me, that makes his third-round draft status worthy of the bust status.