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Roman Wilson Thought Steelers Would Take Him in R2

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Roman Wilson thought the team would end up taking him in the second round of the NFL Draft.



Pittsburgh Steelers Roman Wilson

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. But the Steelers thought highly of Wilson, and even thought they would take him in the second round, but Zach Frazier fell right to them.

“I thought the Steelers were going to get me at 51, but you know, they had a guy they really wanted on their board still in that pick. I don’t blame them for taking that guy. I mean, we need a line. That’s the heart and soul of every team and I’m just happy I get to be part of a team like that who prides themselves on an o-line first and protecting their quarterback. That’s a team I want to be a part of,” Wilson said on the SteelHere Podcast. 

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.

Rhett Lewis of NFL Network thinks Wilson is going to burst onto the scene and surprise people, as well. He predicts that Wilson will win OROY.

“I’m giving (OROY) to Roman Wilson,” he said. “So Roman Wilson and Payton Wilson…there it is your rookies of the year,” Lewis said on a recent NFL Total Access episode.

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.

Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette thinks the Year 1 expectations for Wilson should be lowered significantly. Wilson could be a solid receiver out of the gates, but it does seem premature to mention him in the same breath as Puku Nacua.

“I think he’s gonna be a good player,” Fittipaldo said of Wilson on the North Shore Podcast. “I think in time he could be a No. 2 receiver in the NFL, but why do you want to put that responsibility on his shoulders as a rookie? To me that would be a little unfair. I think that’s why there’s lot of speculation right now about a (trade) being made.”

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 have hit an impasse with Tyler Boyd, missing Williams, who signed with the Jets. 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.

Tyler Boyd, who the Steelers had an interest in, still remains. But Odell Beckham Jr. is now off the market. Others, such as D.J. Chark and Michael Gallup, also signed new deals this past week.

“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,” Khan said on Friday in an appearance on The Jim Rome Show.

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