With players reporting for training camp Thursday, July 25, it is the perfect time to discuss one of the many position battles taking place for the Pittsburgh Steelers. One of the most interesting battles to focus on would have to be in the secondary between Artie Burns and rookie Justin Layne. Burns, Layne, and Cameron Sutton are fighting each other for the remaining spots on the cornerback depth chart. Each will be competing for a spot behind projected starters Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton. Sutton will be placed on the back burner for this article due to his role is more fitting as a slot corner. There is a strong possiblity he receives snaps as a safety in 2019 as well. I want to highlight Burns and Layne in this Steelers cornerback training camp battle. They both can both contribute to the outside with their physical characteristics when needed of them which is something the Steelers have needed severely.
Participants in Pittsburgh Steelers Cornerback Training Camp Battle
Artie Burns, the Steelers first round selection in 2016, has a lot to prove coming into camp. Burns throughout the majority of his career has not lived up to his first round selection. One of the biggest weaknesses Burns has shown is giving up a large portion of over the top plays. The Miami University product has shown just how raw, and undisciplined he really is on the field at times. On the other hand whenever he is in coverage, he plays well when the ball is thrown in front of him. More often than not, making a play on the ball. Reiterating the point earlier, Burns is built for the NFL physically as well. He measures out at 6’0, and with an arm length of 33”. Hopefully Burns has put in the work he needed to this off-season, so he can show out at camp and during the pre-season. Burns will be desperately trying to show he can still contribute.
Justin Layne, third round selection in the 2019 draft, is the cornerback also fighting for an upper hand on the Steelers cornerback depth chart. Layne lacks the experience Burns has, but his upside might be brighter. Layne stacks up perfectly when it comes to his physical attributes. The Michigan State product is measured at 6’2, and with arm length of 33” the same as Burns. As a former All- Ohio receiver, he has a good feel for anticipating routes unlike counterpart Burns. Analyst Todd McShay actually went on to say Layne was the Steelers best pick of the 2019 draft. Out of a solid class for the Steelers, that is saying a great deal. There is always a chance his game does not transfer to the NFL however. This will show as the 2019 season unwinds.
Predicted Outcome of the Battle
There is no doubt, both Artie Burns and Justin Layne will bring out the best in one another during their Steelers cornerback training camp battle. However, the outcome I expect has Artie Burns showing he does indeed have value left to be able to play in the NFL, but Layne with a slight advantage as he will put on a defensive show during camp. In conclusion, expect Layne to move ahead of Burns on the depth chart. This will put the Steelers in a hard place on exactly what to do with Burns now. They could look to keep him for depth, trade him for a mid-round pick if possible, or release him with the hope of a fresh start for both sides.
For now the Steelers might as well keep Burns especially if he proves his value in the weeks to come. Joe Haden, and Mike Hilton are on contract years. Pittsburgh might just need the former first round pick if unable to retain the two corners. No matter what, expect a show by Layne and Burns at camp starting Thursday. Steelers Nation will be rooting for the both of you during the Steelers cornerback training camp battle.
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