4 reasons Justin Layne should be Steelers replacement for Steven Nelson

Justin Layne Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Justin Layne Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Justin Layne (31). Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Layne hasn’t been given a big enough opportunity

Before we go labeling Justin Layne as a draft bust, I think he has at least earned an opportunity to showcase his skills in a larger capacity. Layne has never garnered more than 39 percent of defensive snaps in a single game in the first two years of his NFL career, and there were 7 games last season where he didn’t even log a single defensive snap.

What he has done, however, is proved to be a quality special teams player. Layne is routinely the fastest player down the field in punt return coverage. For talented players and high draft picks, this is a skill that we usually see transfer to the defensive side of the field.

Unfortunately for Layne, he has just 117 career snaps in 26 games (4.5 snaps per game). This is hardly a fair sample for such a gifted athlete. At the very least, Layne should be given the opportunity to start a few games before already making an assessment of the player that he is. Though what we have seen from him hasn’t been perfect, there is plenty of reason to believe that he will be an improved player in year three with more opportunity. We saw gifted athletes like Bud Dupree make this jump in the past, and Layne should be given a fair shot in his third season.