Packers Warned Against Drafting Prospect With ‘Injury Baggage’

Payton Wilson

Getty The Packers were warned against drafting NC State linebacker Payton Wilson.

The Green Bay Packers have a big need at linebacker, but Payton Wilson may not be the safest option at the position in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine shared one prospect each team must avoid in the draft. They outlined why Wilson would be a bad fit for the Packers, highlighting his injury history.

“Wilson certainly looks the part, and the Packers’ need at linebacker is legitimate,” Ballentine wrote. “Nothing derails a prospect’s potential in the NFL quicker than injuries. While the Packer can afford to take risks with some of their 11 picks, there are other athletic linebacker prospects throughout the draft who don’t have the same injury baggage.”

The Packers will have a handful of options at linebacker in this year’s draft. However, Wilson is being viewed as too big of a risk on a position they need to get right heading into 2024.

Payton Wilson Scouting Report

In a weak off-ball linebacker class, Wilson stands out as one of the more interesting prospects in the draft.

Wilson was a high school All-American and a 4-star recruit back in 2018. His dozens of offers included schools like Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and more. Instead, Wilson decided to stay in his home state to play for North Carolina State.

The Wolfpack made the most of Wilson’s talents. The 2023 season was Wilson’s breakout year, racking up awards across the board. His accolades included unanimous All-American honors, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, the Butkus Award for the nation’s top linebacker, and the Chuck Bednarik Award for the top defensive player in the country.

All of those accolades showed the kind of player Wilson can be when healthy. However, injuries have been a consistent problem throughout his career. His injury history includes two torn ACLs and a season-ending shoulder injury.

Wilson will also be 24 years old as a rookie. While he has the size, length and athleticism to be an NFL linebacker, his age and injury history could have him dropping farther than expected as the 41st overall prospect on the consensus big board.

Off-Ball Linebacker is a Major Packers Need

The Packers have gone through some major defensive changes this offseason. New defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley is bringing a new defensive scheme that will prioritize off-ball linebackers, a position the Packers are currently thin at.

De’Vondre Campbell is now with the San Francisco 49ers. That leaves Quay Walker and Isaiah McDuffie as the players with significant experience on the depth chart. Walker is a former first-round pick, while McDuffie is an undersized linebacker despite playing well in spurts last season. Eric Wilson is a seasoned veteran, but has primarily served in a special teams role.

With the Packers moving to a 4-3 base defense, they’ll need at least one (and maybe two) more starting-caliber linebackers.

Wilson is considered an injury risk, but Edgerrin Cooper could be an exciting option for the Packers. He showed off explosiveness and speed at Texas A&M, allowing him to fly all over the field.

Regardless of who it is, expect the Packers to take at least one linebacker in the 2024 NFL Draft.

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