With the Steelers’ regular season drawing near, I personally hope these five players prove me wrong and exceed expectations.
The Steelers maintain a certain level of expectation every year due to their longstanding success in the league. While their expectations are down a bit this year, most still expect them to be competitive and be in play for a playoff spot. Individual team members also naturally carry certain expectations, and in the case of the five below, I personally think they will struggle in 2021 more than most.
Don’t get that confused though, while I think their contributions may be lacking, in no way do I hope that is the case. Here are the five Steelers players I hope exceed my expectations in 2021.
Steelers Justin Layne
If you have been following along with me since the end of last season, I have been incredibly negative on Justin Layne. The former third-round pick was oozing potential coming out of Michigan St., but he has yet to put it all together. Despite his great size and good athleticism, he really struggles to make reads and takes bad angles in coverage. He was so bad last year that an undrafted rookie cornerback (James Pierre) ended up passing him on the depth chart.
He allowed a quarterback rating of 138.5 when he was targeted and only forced two incompletions. Those types of numbers are not good enough for a third-round pick. Add in his arrest during the offseason and the great play at cornerback from the rest of the Steelers depth chart and there is a good chance Layne is looking for a new team in 2021.
All that said, I certainly don’t want to see him fail. Some cornerbacks do take a bit longer to develop, and the position has a tough transition from the college game to the pros. He needs to show something though, anything to prove he is moving in the right direction. Until then, I don’t even expect Layne to make the roster, and if he does, I wouldn’t expect any great play from him.