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Payton Wilson Reveals Expectations in Year 1

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Pittsburgh Steelers LB Payton Wilson

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers’ third-round pick Payton Wilson has high expectations for himself in Year 1. The 2023 Butkus Award winner expects nothing but greatness.

“I’m just super excited to go to Latrobe and compete. Since I was a youngin’, I wanna be the best in the world,” Wilson told Aaron Becker of Yardbarker. “Wherever that’s at, whatever role is handed to me. I’m gonna come in and I’m gonna help this team win a Super Bowl.”

Wilson has a throwback feel to him. He’s as blue-collar as they come. That’s why many draft analysts thought Pittsburgh was a perfect landing spot.

“Yeah, they said it’s one of the hardest camps in the league, but I’m blue-collar, grew up on a farm. I’m super excited to kind of put the ball down and let’s play ball,” Wilson said on what the veterans told him about Steelers training camp.

Pittsburgh Steelers ILB Payton Wilson

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Payton Wilson with coach Grady Brown during the team’s rookie minicamp at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on May 11, 2024. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Steelers also have high expectations for Wilson, as they’ve already implemented him as their Dime linebacker. Wilson will have to earn the role in training camp, but defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has been impressed.

“He can really run,” Austin said. “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.

“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.”

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.

“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 showcased to the coaching staff that he’s a football-lover. He’s as advertised.

“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.