Payton Wilson

Dynasty Player Profile: Payton Wilson

Payton Wilson | North Carolina State  6’4” | 233 lbs         04/21/2000 (Age 24)

Payton Wilson was drafted by the Pittsburg Steelers, becoming the sixth Linebacker and 98th overall player selected in the 2024 NFL Draft.


Payton Wilson began his college career with a knee injury he suffered during high school. He ended up suffering a setback with that injury in the summer, subsequently was forced to miss the season, and he redshirted in 2018. In 2019 Wilson became an important role player, playing in 11 games with one start. He led the team with 69 total tackles, including five TFLs, three PBUs, and one INT.

During the 2020 season, Wilson earned First-team All-ACC honors and finished fourth in the entire FBS with 108 total tackles. He also led his team with 11.5 TFLs and recorded 3.5 sacks and two INTs. He started 10 games and played through two dislocated shoulders at the end of the season, undergoing surgery afterward. In 2021 Wilson started two games before another shoulder injury caused him to miss the rest of the season. He finished with five tackles, 1.5 TFLs, and one sack. 

In 2022 he earned Honorable Mention All-ACC after starting 11 games and recording 82 tackles, 12.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, one INT, and three PBUs. This past season, Wilson started 12 games and won the Chuck Bednarik Defensive Player of the Year Award and Butkus Award. Wilson earned First-team Associated Press All-American and ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors as well as First-team All-ACC. He was also a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy. Payton finished fifth in the FBS with 138 tackles and tied for seventh with 17.5 TFLs. He also registered 6.0 sacks, three INTs, six PBUs, one forced fumble, and a defensive TD on one of his INTs.

Payton Wilson - 2023 - undefined - NC State University Athletics


Wilson is long and surprisingly athletic as a run-and-chase LB. He doesn’t have the weight or strength to play a traditional inside backer spot of yesteryear or take on blocks of larger offensive linemen. He takes great pursuit angles and has the speed to create impact plays on defense. Wilson has a knack for finding the football when allowed to play freely and avoid the mess in the middle, and is skilled enough to finish the impact plays that can change the outcomes of games. 

He comes with risks, though, as two significant knee injuries and two significant shoulder injuries surely pushed him down the draft board to the end of the third round. He had a drinking-related arrest at age 19 but seemed to come out of it matured and reinvigorated to become an elite defensive player. Wilson plays with above-average awareness and football IQ and is capable of diagnosing plays quickly, but he relies on his incredible athleticism to produce his impact plays. 


As expected, Payton Wilson excelled in NFL Scouting Combine tests that he participated in, running a blazing 4.43 40-yard dash with a 1.54 10-yard split. He also put up a solid 34.5” vertical jump and recorded a mediocre 9’11” broad jump. He chose not to participate in the bench press, the shuttle, or the three-cone drills. 

NFL Draft 2024


Rapid Reaction to Draft Capital: Average

Rapid Reaction to Landing Spot: Great

Wilson was selected with the 98th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. 


Payton Wilson predictably fell in the draft due to his litany of past injuries and the fact that he is a 24-year-old rookie. While he possesses the talent and play-making ability to become a starting LB right away, being drafted to Pittsburg affords them the luxury of playing it safe and slow with Wilson. With Patrick Queen and Cole Holcolm as capable vets already in place, the Steelers were not necessarily hurting for an off-ball LB, they just pounced on the opportunity to land a late-first-round talent at the end of Round 3. When Wilson does hit the field, expect to see more of the same in terms of impact-play potential. The Steelers’ defense is loaded with playmakers who can help push more opportunities Wilson’s way. 

It is important to note, however, that sources have shared that many teams put a 4-year “NFL shelf-life” on Wilson due to his injury history and medical tests. In terms of dynasty, Wilson ranks as your author’s rookie LB3 of this class and as the eighth overall IDP rookie. Expect to see him drafted in the late-second to early-third rounds of dynasty IDP rookie drafts this offseason. 

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