*CB grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, Wonderlic test results leaked, etc. We will update info as it becomes available. 

I was making a list of cornerbacks I wanted to study deeper, and Justin Layne was not on that early list. After running some of the initial data on the CB class, Layne’s metrics were kinda lingering near our top CB prospects group…some signs of him as a top CB prospect showing, but also some areas of concern – not a perfect prospect but I kept seeing his name on the fringe/low-end of the ‘good list’ on some different metrics and things up there with the Greedy Williams’s or Kendall Sheffield’s, etc. Eventually, I just put him on the list to look at more closely. So, here we are…

After further review…I’m not a fan. 

I just studied Ohio State CB Kendall Sheffield prior to Layne, and I’ve liked Sheffield from the first time I watched him. I liked him even more when I saw his Pro Day numbers come in and when I watched more tape. He always made me ‘like him’. Justin Layne is the opposite – no matter what I looked at I didn’t get a good vibe. He’s not a hot bust, but he’s definitely not a top CB prospect in this class. 

We can agree to ‘like’ his measurables – 6’1.6”/192…long body, nice reach (33” arms). Acceptable 4.50 40-time. Nice agility times. 11’2” broad jump is excellent. Layne is athletic enough for the NFL. 

What I don’t like, and it’s a bunch…

 -- Very thin-framed. Skinny all over. A so-so tackler because of it…reduced to more of a ‘grabby’ tackler because he doesn’t have enough mass for clean tackles. 

 -- Speaking of ‘grabby’…he’s grabby in coverage too. Why? Because he gets beat a lot. He has nice measured speed-agility, but his instincts and reactions to receivers running routes is borderline terrible. Layne is constantly off the receiver, and trying to sense when they’re about to make a cut inside (or out) and when they do…he just moves so slowly, so non-fluently (for a top guy) to cut/move with them that it leaves him constantly trailing receivers who get open to the inside easily for the catch. 

He has good long speed, but his short-range reaction speed/burst/reactions are not good. 

 -- He led the Big Ten in passes defended (15) in 2018, which you’d think is great…but a top corner in the league is usually avoided by opposing QBs. Not Layne. Teams felt fine throwing to his area. They felt fine because receivers were open easily against Layne, especially the better WRs running medium slants. 

 -- Listening to Justin Layne speak is no treat either. He comes off as not personable, leaves you thinking he’s disinterested in whatever an interviewer is asking. I just didn’t like the vibe. The vibe wouldn’t matter as much if he were a superstar prospect, but he’s not. 

Layne has ‘Michigan State’ going for him, but MSU corners have been pretty underwhelming/overrated for the last decade, haven’t they? Why do we keep instantly respecting them (Darqueze Dennard, Trae Waynes come to mind)? Layne’s rise to the top 100 prospects has been more on size-athleticism profile and ‘Michigan State’ respect. How anyone takes him over Isaiah Johnson or Kendall Sheffield or even Jamel Dean (CB prospects that are rated behind him for some/many) is beyond me. 


Justin Layne, Through the Lens of Our CB Scouting Algorithm:

Another thing Layne gets respect for is that he was a wide receiver coming to Michigan State, and then converted part way into his freshman season. Why that’s a bonus for him and not for CB Isaiah Johnson/Houston, as much, I don’t know…or I do (‘Michigan State’).

His final five games of his college career should have been the peak of Big Ten QBs avoiding him, if he had established himself as a worrisome corner. In his final five college games, Layne defended 11 passes…nearly half the amount of his entire career. And it’s not because he was just so awesome in coverage. Teams watched tape of his sloppy play and felt comfortable going after him more and more. 

2019 NFL Combine Measurables…

6’1.6”/192, 9.25” hands, 33’ arms

4.50 40-time, 2.65 20-yard, 1.59 10-yard

4.09 shuttle, 6.90 three-cone

37.5” vertical, 11’2” broad jump

The Historical CB Prospects to Whom Justin Layne Most Compares Within Our System:

A lesser Kevin Johnson would be about as good as it gets with Justin Layne…but Johnson a much more affable, coachable young man, I believe. 

CB Grade



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Cover Rating

Speed Metrics

Agility Metric

Tackle Metric





Michigan St.












Wake Forest












So Florida




















*The ratings are based on a 1–10 rating scale, but a prospect can score over 10.0+ and less than 0.0

OVERALL RATING -- We merge the data from physical measurables, skill times/counts from the NFL Combine/Pro Days, with college performance data available on pass coverage/tackles, etc. and grade it compared to our database history of all college CBs, with a focus on which CBs went on to be good-great-elite in the NFL. We found characteristics/data points that the successful NFL CBs had in common in college, that most other CB prospects could not match/achieve.

Scoring with a rating over a 7.00+ in our system is where we start to take a CB prospect more seriously. Most of the future NFL successful college CBs scored 8.00+, and most of the NFL superior CBs pushed scores more in the 9.00+ levels...and future NFL busts will sneak in there from time to time. 10.00+ is where most of the elite NFL CBs tend to score in our system analysis.

COVERAGE -- A combination of on-field data/performance and physical profile data

SPEED -- Measurables from a perspective of straight-line speed, burst, etc.

AGILITY -- Measurables for lateral movements, quick cuts, body type, speed, etc. 

POWER -- A look at physical size, tackling productivity in college, other physical measurables. One of the side benefits/intentions here, is to see which CBs may be more of a model for a conversion to playing safety successfully in the NFL. Also denotes CBs who are more physical/will have higher tackle totals...over pure speed/coverage CBs.

2019 NFL Draft Outlook:

I see Layne tracking with a lot of 3rd-round rankings. Some 2nds, a few 4ths. 3rd-round will likely make sense.

If I were an NFL GM, I would not make any plans for drafting Layne. Too many other better prospects going the same draft range and later. 

NFL Outlook:   

Layne has an NFL body and athleticism, but a bit thin…he could be transformed some. I just don’t know that Layne has the overall skill to be much more than a backup or low-end starter.