The Los Angeles Rams don’t have a ton of certainty at the cornerback position after the 2019 season. It’s possible they may look to the 2019 NFL Draft to add some insurance to the secondary. Justin Layne out of Michigan State could be the successor to Aqib Talib when the time comes. Layne is a long, athletic corner at 6’2″ and 192 pounds with 33″ arms. Layne looks the part of a prototypical cornerback in the NFL.
College stats and honors:
2018: 72 tackles, 44 solo, 1 interception, 15 pass breakups.
Career: 130 tackles, 79 solo, 3 interceptions, 24 pass breakups.
Honors: 1st team All-Big 10 per Pro Football Focus (2018), 2nd team All-Big 10 per Big 10 media (2018), Honorable Mention All-Big 10 (2017).
Layne is a good bump and run cornerback. With his long arms and frame, he plays physical and shows the ability to re-route receivers. He displays great route recognition as a former receiver. Layne is a willing tackler in run support. He shows good pursuit in the run game. Layne is great at breaking up passes due to his physical play.
Layne has good athleticism for his size, running a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, 37.5″ vertical jump, 11’2″ broad jump, 4.09-second short shuttle and 6.9-second 3-cone drill. He is a fluid athlete with a good backpedal and enough closing speed to make plays in the NFL.
He displays a high football IQ and good awareness. Layne will win 50/50 balls. He also does a great job of keeping routes under him to not get beat deep.
Layne doesn’t possess elite athleticism and has to be physical early in order to re-route speedier receivers. Although he has good route awareness as a former receiver, he leaves something to be desired in ball skills. Likely won’t get many interceptions in the NFL.
Although length makes up for some issues, Layne lacks some fluidity out of breaks. While Layne is a willing tackler, he isn’t generally a physical tackler and could stand to improve in that area. He can get a little too grabby with receivers at times.
Expected Draft round:
Layne is a prototypical bump and run cornerback. He plays physical in coverage and takes a “beat you early so you can’t beat me late” mentality. Although, not an elite athlete, he is quite athletic for his size, height, arm length and wingspan to makeup for his shortcomings. He will consistently win matchups because of his tenacity throughout route progressions and his route recognition. His length allows him to close the window between himself and the receiver which leads to lots of pass breakups. Receivers will not get a lot of yards after catch against Layne.
He will consistently win 50/50 balls as well. Although his physicality is one of his best traits, he needs to be a little less grabby in the NFL to avoid penalties. Layne belongs in round two, he gets pushed down because of a deep corner class. Layne would be an excellent pick for the Rams in a trade down scenario.
William Jackson III, Byron Jones