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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers Draft Grades: Roman Wilson Brings the Heat

The Pittsburgh Steelers landed a solid player in Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson, who will help out a limited WR room.



Pittsburgh Steelers Roman Wilson

PITTSBURGH — Roman Wilson says that he will “block his ass off” for his team to win a football game. And that’s exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers needed out of their wide receiver in this draft class. A new mentality would be born out of the Arthur Smith hire in that wide receiver room, and guys who are selfless and want to block are the type of players they want in the room.

On the field, Wilson is undersized but gives it his all in the blocking department. He worked from condensed splits right out of the gate, so the Smith offense will not be too different from what he did at Michigan. From that standpoint, it makes total sense, and while other receivers might have been rated higher, no one fit the scheme much better than someone like Wilson at this point.

Wilson is fast and can fly. Working primarily from the slot (65% of his snaps came from there), Wilson can stretch the field vertically. Smith’s offense works mostly over the middle of the field, and Wilson’s production comes from between the numbers. Wilson is a smart player who finds the soft spots in zones and makes contested, tough grabs, exudes toughness.

Inside or out, he was Michigan’s most productive receiver this season. Wilson led the Wolverines in catches (48), yards (789) and touchdowns (12), as the clear top target in a very limited passing attack. He can play some outside, but he has a limited profile against press coverage, which will lead to questions in that department.

For a player who will be limited to the slot because of his size, you wish his route running was a bit more polished. He is a little raw, but the Steelers draft brass has to feel this is someone who is coachable. Is it a perfect pick and someone who alleviates all concerns? No, but Wilson immediately has a defined role that aligns with a cultural shift in that position room.

I think that Pittsburgh should find Wilson, who will have plenty of success off the play-action shots that Russell Wilson will uncork this season. His role should be limited in his first year, and the need for a veteran wide receiver who can play outside is significant. Regardless, Wilson will embrace his role and brings an element the team did not have, which is someone who is tough as nails, primarily wins over the middle of the field, and profiles as a dynamic chain mover in an offense that had been crying for someone with that role.

Grade: B+