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Aaron Curry Compares Payton Wilson’s Speed to Bobby Wagner

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Pittsburgh Steelers ILB Payton Wilson
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Payton Wilson with coach Grady Brown during the team's minicamp at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on June 12, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers plan on taking advantage of linebacker Payton Wilson’s superb athleticism. The third-round selection out of NC State ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash in the pre-draft process, a 4.2-second short shuttle and a 6.85-second three-cone drill for an impressive 9.89 Relative Athletic Score out of 10. That’s why he’s been getting reps in the Dime package.

“He can really run,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said at minicamp on Wednesday. “That guy can move. He’s really sharp. He’s into football. He asks great football question. I think he’s going to have a legitimate shot to be a Dime linebacker, right off the bat.”

Wilson will have to earn the Dime package role in training camp, but thus far, Austin has been impressed.

“He can cover. He can run. He’s smart,” Austin said. “Once we get the pads on, that’s when we’ll make the final determination.”

RELATED: Steelers Rookie Payton Wilson Has ‘Legitimate Shot’ to Win Dime LB Role

Steelers linebackers coach Aaron Curry, who used to coach in Seattle, compared Wilson’s speed to nine-time Pro Bowler and six-time first-team All-Pro Bobby Wagner. Talk about high praise.

“My background, spent a lot of time with Bobby Wagner. Bobby played fast like that, so seeing that speed, it’s really exciting because you know there’s gonna be some plays that only his speed can make. So I’m excited. I’m looking forward to those opportunities for him,” Curry said at minicamp.

Wilson has an old-school, throwback aura about him. That’s why many draft analysts thought Pittsburgh was a perfect landing spot.

“Pre-draft, my note on him was he’s a football junkie. And he really is,” Curry said. “He meets, he wants to be right, he takes constructive criticism properly. He wants all the answers. He’s gonna study tape on his own, he’s gonna come in with questions, he’ll spend all day in the building if you let him. He’s a football junkie, a high football character guy, he’s fun to coach.”

Nick Farabaugh contributed reporting from Pittsburgh.