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2024 NFL Draft

Analyst Makes Bold Prediction About Two Steelers Rookies



Rhett Lewis of NFL Network made quite the prediction during post-draft coverage on NFL Total Access. He thinks when it’s all set and done, Pittsburgh Steelers’ third-round selections wide receiver Roman Wilson and linebacker Payton Wilson will both win Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2024.

Talk about about bold. Especially considering they’re both third-round picks. Alvin Kamara in 2017 and Keenan Allen in 2013 were the last third-round picks to win OROY. On the defensive side, Erik McMillan in 1988 was the last third-round pick to win DROY. The odds are certainly stacked against Payton Wilson.

“Sign him up already for a hundred tackles already,” Lewis said of Wilson, via Alex Kozora of Steelers Depot. “It’s gonna happen. He was an absolute monster on the field for NC State. [He has a] GPS to the football. Blew up the [NFL Scouting] Combine with his athleticism. He’s had some injury concerns, which led to the fall down the draft board, but he landed in a great spot there.”

Wilson is a 6-foot-4, 235-pound linebacker with a rare combination of size and speed, but also a lengthy injury history that led to teams passing on him in the draft. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network said that Wilson does not have an ACL in one of his knees.

Wilson was a five-year player at NC State, and he had his best statistical season in 2023, when he recorded 138 total tackles, six sacks, three interceptions, six passes defended, a forced fumble and one defensive touchdown. He won the Chuck Bednarik Award as the top defender in the country and the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker.

Wilson 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 a 9.89 RAS out of 10.

Wilson was projected as the No. 46 player on the NFL Mock Draft Database big board, falling 40 spots on his significant injury history. Throughout his career, Wilson has dealt with knee injuries, shoulder injuries, and some questions about a concussion. From what is known about his medical history since high school, he has undergone over ten surgeries. That includes surgeries on both shoulders and multiple on his right knee. So, there are some serious questions about durability with Wilson.

On the offensive side, Rhett Lewis thinks Roman Wilson is going to burst onto the scene and surprise people.

“I’m giving (OROY) to Roman Wilson,” he said. “So Roman Wilson and Payton Wilson…there it is your rookies of the year.”

Lewis didn’t provide much of an explanation for Roman Wilson winning OROY, but he’ll have his hands full with Caleb Williams, Marvin Harrison Jr., Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy, Malik Nabers and Romeo Odunze all in the mix, just to name a few.

When the Steelers drafted Roman Wilson, he earned all sorts of comparisons. He compared himself to one of Russell Wilson’s top targets, Tyler Lockett. But the comparison that Tony Pauline heard the Steelers view Wilson through is much more ambitious. According to Pauline, Wilson is viewed through a ‘Hines Ward lens’ within the Steelers organization as a tough player who wins between the numbers.

In January, Wilson got a challenge from Tomlin before a sunny Wednesday practice at the Senior Bowl. Tomlin pulled Wilson and Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell aside, two of the most dominant players from day one of the Senior Bowl, and told them to go against each other throughout practice. They did just that, creating a highlight reel play for Wilson.

Wilson is somewhat undersized, checking in at 5-foot-10 3/4 and 185 pounds, but showed excellent athleticism in pre-draft testing. He ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash, a 4.07-second shuttle and 6.89-second three-cone drill at the 2024 NFL Combine, resulting in an 8.59 RAS out of 10.