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Year 1 Expectations for Roman Wilson Should Be Toned Down



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. 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.

“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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May 7, 2024 10:17 am

OROY isn’t going to happen with six first round QB’s and a large handful of very talented receivers playing in more explosive offensive schemes who were drafted ahead of Wilson. But I expect a big impact on our team and similar yardage stats to what DJ had last year, albeit on fewer targets. DJ had only 51 catches on 87 targets and Wilson won’t get near that many targets in Smith’s offense. 50 catches on 70 targets seems more likely due to his very low drop rate of 2%. To achieve those modest numbers Roman Wilson only needs about four… Read more »

Jesus Christani
Jesus Christani
May 7, 2024 11:37 am

“Year 1 Expectations for Roman Wilson Should Be Toned Down. DISAGREE… Expectations and goals can be toned up… Just ask any Pittsburgh Steelers fanatic if the goal of making the playoffs every season should be toned down — they want the head coach fired for making the playoffs and not winning a game then when a game is finally won, they’ll want him fired for not winning the Super Bowl… Now, the fanatics get a little carried away with the coals & fire but BRAVO to their expectations… Of course, 1500 yards in a rookie WR season in an offensive… Read more »

Last edited 13 days ago by Jesus Christani
Less Tomlin
Less Tomlin
May 7, 2024 1:28 pm

This team may not have a viable #2 or #3 receiver. Donte Jackson’s PFF score was garbage last year for Carolina, so is he a #2 corner? I trust Khan to spend the remaining $18+ million in cap space wisely. There’s a reason the over under on total wins sits at 9 games in Vegas.