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Roman Wilson Details How He Can Play inside and Outside

Roman Wilson is hoping to play inside and outside for the Steelers this season, and he talked about how he can get there.



Pittsburgh Steelers WR Roman Wilson
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Roman Wilson at rookie minicamp, May 10, 2024 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Given the Pittsburgh Steelers lack of depth at wide receiver, rookie Roman Wilson should see a lot of playing time in Year 1. That is not typical for a third-round rookie, even at wide receiver. The Steelers thought highly of Wilson and even thought they would take him in the second round, but Zach Frazier fell right to them.

Instead, he felt to the third round to them. On his first day of rookie minicamp, the athletic gifts that he possesses are evident when he sees Wilson work up close and personally.

I just noticed how quickly he eats up ground in short areas. The explosiveness he has off the line of scrimmage is incredible. There were veterans in the Steelers rookie camp who did not have the same level of burst that he does. The 4.39 speed is impressive at the NFL Combine, but the instant acceleration is more impressive. As he tries to switch outside and inside, Wilson talks about what he wants to improve upon most to get there.

“For me, it’s about being low, honing in on those route details, the footwork,” Wilson said. “You know, pumping my arms out of breaks to create separation. It’s things like that.”

That’s probably why he has won so much on crossers and over routes. Wilson is a speedy dot flying across the field in shorts and on tape. It doesn’t guarantee he will be good, obviously, but that trait certainly sticks out in a positive manner relative to the rest of the field.

Because of this, Chris Simms of NBC Sports envisions Wilson having a breakout rookie year that resembles what Puka Nacua of the Los Angeles Rams did in 2023. That would be a high goal to set, obviously.

“Two guys I think jump to me here, one would be Roman Wilson of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and him being able to play right away is a big part of this. And the other one is Jermaine Burton of the Cincinnati Bengals,” Simms said on his Unbuttoned podcast.

Nacua set records for the most receptions (105) and receiving yards (1,486) ever by a rookie in a season, but C.J. Stroud’s unbelievable rookie campaign granted him NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Both put up historic numbers, but Stroud led the Texans to the playoffs. Being a quarterback gave Stroud an edge, too. In any other year, Nacua would have won OROY. No one expected Nacua, who was a fifth-round pick out of BYU, to break out like he did in 2023.

Wilson played both inside and outside at Michigan, spending 91% of his time in the slot as a junior in 2022 and 65.5% of his time in the slot last season, per Pro Football Focus.

Inside or out, he was Michigan’s most productive receiver in 2023. Wilson led the Wolverines in catches (48), yards (789) and touchdowns (12), as the clear top target in a very limited passing attack.

Unless they pull off a massive trade for Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and Courtland Sutton, the Steelers will probably have to settle for just an adequate veteran wide receiver option. There’s just not a lot out there on the open market.

The Steelers have been in the market for a wide receiver since trading Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers in March. They’ve struck out on free agent Mike Williams and passed on Tyler Boyd. The Steelers have also kicked the tires on Aiyuk, who the San Francisco 49ers insist they are not trading. But Sutton might be the most intriguing of the options for who this could be.

“We feel good about where we’re at, but obviously there’s still some unfinished business until we get into the season and we start winning football games and we reach our goal, which is to win a Super Bowl,” Omar Khan said last week in an appearance on The Jim Rome Show.

The team probably needs to add someone, but Wilson is a dynamite plug who can win in specific areas of the field that Pittsburgh did not have on the team a year ago.