Analyst says Steelers might have landed 'biggest steal of the draft'
North Carolina State linebacker Payton Wilson. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Analyst says Steelers might have landed 'biggest steal of the draft'

NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks named the Pittsburgh Steelers' rookie class as one of his "favorite hauls" of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Brooks didn't stop there, however, stating that he believes the team may have landed the biggest steal of the entire draft in former N.C. State linebacker Payton Wilson.

"Wilson, in particular, is a destructive force with a knack for filling up the stat sheet with sacks, tackles for loss, forced fumbles and interceptions," Brooks writes. "Despite entering the league as a third-round pick, the N.C. State product is a first-round talent minus his medical history. If he can stay healthy in the NFL, the Steelers might have landed the biggest steal of the draft at pick No. 98."

Many experts gave Wilson a first-round grade but his extensive medical history likely scared teams away, causing him to fall to the end of the third round.

Nonetheless, the gamble on Wilson could pay massive dividends for the Steelers if he can stay healthy, which he's been able to do the past two seasons.

In 2023, he won the Chuck Bednarik Award as the top defender in the country and the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker after registering 138 total tackles, six sacks, one forced fumble, three interceptions and six passes defensed.

Wilson won't need to be rushed into the starting lineup with veteran linebackers Elandon Roberts and Patrick Queen on the roster. Although, some believe Pittsburgh's new linebacker has so much upside that he could be the next NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

"Sign him up for a hundred tackles already," NFL Network analyst Rehtt Lewis said of Wilson, via Alex Kozora of Steelers Depot. "It's gonna happen. He was an absolute monster on the field for N.C. State. He has a GPS to the football. Blew up the NFL Scouting Combine with his athleticism."

Only time will tell if Wilson reaches those expectations, but many think the Steelers may have just landed their next great linebacker in the third round.

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