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2024 NFL Draft

Steelers Urged to Target Athletic Linebacker



Steelers LB Payton Wilson

The Steelers will likely need a linebacker this offseason, with injuries to Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander muddying the picture for the future of that room. So, that seems to be a need that could be addressed in the offseason, whether through a cheap free agent or someone in the NFL Draft.

But Pro Football Focus knows who could help fill the void. The Steelers could look to the ACC for an athletic linebacker in Payton Wilson. It is him who Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus believes could fit in like a glove with the room, mainly because his athleticism at the position brings something the team does not have.

“Wilson has been one of the nation’s best coverage linebackers in 2023, with his 26 defensive stops in coverage ranking as the top mark at the position, his 47.2 passer rating allowed ranking 17th and his 90.1 coverage grade placing among the FBS’ best. Wilson’s 4.6% missed tackle rate is one of the lowest at the position, as well, and he boasts a very strong 83.2 run-defense grade to boot,” Spielberger wrote.

Wilson is a fun talent who runs all over the football field. The Steelers will like his brand of physicality, but he brings high coverage upside with his athleticism, too. Wilson’s most significant concern is his medicals. Without those questions, he would likely be talked about as a first-round pick, and maybe he could even sneak in there with a fantastic pre-draft process, but right now, those questions will continue to pop up.

The Steelers will have to look for a partner to hold it down next to Roberts. It is very possible that Holcomb and Alexander may not be ready for the start of the 2024 NFL season. Even if Pittsburgh is interested in bringing Alexander back, given the level of play they got from him, it would make sense; it is his second Achilles tendon tear. Meanwhile, Holcomb suffered his second straight significant injury after having foot surgery to end his season early last year.

Injuries for both players are adding up, and Pittsburgh would be wise to invest in an insurance policy. Mykal Walker could be part of that solution if he continues to play well down the stretch, but two games are too early to tell if the Steelers have something in the former Falcons standout.