College: Michigan State
Weight: 192 lbs
Injury History: None of Note
Games Evaluated: 2018 Vs: Ohio State, Michigan, Utah State
Scout: Roy Countryman
Former WR recruit that has terrific height and length for the CB position. Has very good long speed and jumping ability that he uses to influence a ton of plays at the catch point. Quick feet and good hip fluidity for a bigger bodied CB. Was a standout basketball and track and field athlete in high school.
Has the ability to contort and match his assignments without giving up much separation, especially at the catch point.
Deep Speed 7.20
Has very good long speed and can carry his assignment downfield step for step. Timed in at 4.5s in the 40-yd dash at the combine.
Explosive jumper who can utilize his height, length, and jumping ability to climb the ladder and disrupt WRs at catch point.
Generally a coordinated athlete when playing in press zone, but when asked to play man he lacks the elite fluidity to flip and follow, he will have a slight hitch that allows spacing, and even at times will become unbalanced.
Man Press 7.20
Very aggressive and stingy in Man Press. Will get a firm one or two handed jam to disrupt the timing of route and allow him to transition and get to a solid trail position.
Man Off 7.10
Has good instincts and short area quickness to allow WR to come to him in off man coverage, and will stick to his assignment like glue throughout the duration of the route. A consistent pain.
Being a former WR he recognizes route concepts which gives him an idea of how his opponent is trying to set up his route, which allows him react and close on passes in an instant.
Hand Fighting 7.30
Strong hands fighter not only on the LOS, but throughout the duration of the route. Will utilize a one or two handed jam off the LOS.
Hips/Turn Ability 6.80
Good hip fluidity overall and doesn't allow a ton of separation. Struggles a little covering quicker WRs horizontally due to not having upper echelon hip flexion.
Play Making: 7.37
Closing Quickness 7.30
Very good closing speed, and will gobble up yardage with his long strides in a few steps. Add in his length and he is a hard CB to throw over.
Ball skills 6.70
Only had 3 INT's in his career at Michigan State, but he also had 24 PD and with him only playing the CB position for a few seasons after transitioning from WR some of the PD could turn into INTs.
Route/play Diagnosis 8.10
Excellent route recognition due to his background playing WR. Will pick up on small keys on how his opponent's run their routes and will exploit them.
Run Support: 6.90
Quickness Upfield 7.20
Very good run defender from the outside CB position. WIlling and aggressive filler and with his very good closing quickness to flash down into the play.
Fight Through Blocks 6.50
Willing to scrap with blockers and disengage to flow downhill to the ball carrier. Doesn't have a ton of bulk and lower body strength so he will struggle to shed blocks at the next level.
Good tackler who utilizes solid technique overall, but as with all CBs he will dive at the feet of runners too often and due to a lack of bulk he can get toss aside from time to time.
Grinder on the outside and is willing to have a short memory if he gets beat. Scrappy playing demeanor for being a former WR and isn't afraid to be aggressive in run defense.
26 game starter at Michigan State, Had 130 career tackles, 3 INTs, and 24 PD. Bounced around playing CB and WR, and even played some WR in 2018 due to injuries.
Fire burns bright all night, no effort issues of note. Willing to fight through blocks and pass catchers to make difference making plays.
Has terrific feel for how his opponent is trying to attack him due to his WR background. Will key in on small nuances and will close to the ball to influence the result of the play.
Great ability to soak up a playbook and play wherever the coaches need him. Played outside CB, but was not pigeonholed to one side, rather he would flip LCB and RCB depending upon his opponent.
Showed his mettle and selflessness by stepping in and playing two ways this past season both as CB and WR when they needed him to due to injuries to the WR corp.
Tall, long, and athletic former WR that utilizes that background in playing outside CB. He has great instincts and very good closing quickness to flow down to the play in an instant. Has very good jumping ability and with his length he gets his hands on a ton of passes. Has good hands to come down with INT's, and if he can't pick it off he gets a ton of passes defensed. Willing and aggressive run supporter who isn't afraid to scrap with blockers and try and get to the ball carrier.
He is a very sticky cover corner, but will give up separation to quicker WRs when they attack him on horizontal routes due to a lack of elite hip fluidity. Overall he has good tackling mechanics but at times he will dive at the runners feet or will simply be tossed aside due to a lack of bulk or lower body strength. Is a scrappy run defender and shows the effort to fight through blocks, but due to those same issues he has when tackling rear their head and he will shut down against bigger and stronger WRs in the NFL.
Justin Layne is an ascending CB talent, with a ton of natural talent and athleticism and a huge upside. He has the background of playing WR, and the height and length that all teams covet in their outside CBs, so do not be surprised when you see him come off the board early in day 2, most likely in Round 2 and at the latest Round 3. Teams that should be keeping a close eye on him draft day should be the: Steelers, Eagles, Seahawks, Chiefs, and Raiders. His playing style reminds me of William Jackson III.