Steelers LB Payton Wilson Already Turning Heads at Rookie Minicamp

Mike Tomlin Payton Wilson

Getty Pittsburgh Steelers media sounded impressed with rookie inside linebacker Payton Wilson on the first day of rookie minicamps for head coach Mike Tomlin.

The NFL media portrayed linebacker Payton Wilson as one of the top steals in the 2024 draft when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in the third round. Nothing Wilson did on the first day of rookie minicamp changed that narrative.

In fact, Wilson may have only further cemented his status as a Day 2 draft steal with his early performance at Steelers rookie camp.

“Steelers LB Payton Wilson might be the oldest-acting rookie I can remember in a while,” wrote Steelers Now’s Alan Saunders on X (formerly Twitter).

“Already calling the defense on Day One, super poised in interviews, referred to not having an ACL as his ‘bum knee.'”

Wilson wore the green dot on the first day of minicamp despite the fact that he wasn’t the most experienced linebacker at Steelers practice on May 10.

“The Steelers do have one experienced linebacker in camp, in Tyler Murray, who spent time with the team last season, but they trusted the youngster to have a solid grip on the playbook on his first day,” wrote Saunders and Steelers Now’s Nick Farabaugh.

Steelers fans on X were just as impressed with his agility as Saunders and Farabaugh were with his grasp of the playbook.

“ILB Payton Wilson moving pretty well for a guy lacking an ACL,” wrote Mike Prisuta as a caption to a Wilson workout video.

Payton Wilson, WR Roman Wilson Impressive at Steelers Rookie Minicamp

The first day of minicamp is like the first day of school — there’s little reason not to be excited about the fresh start and the upcoming year.

But both of Pittsburgh’s 2024 third-round picks gave reasons for the Steelers to be particularly excited.

While Payton displayed his agility and early mastery of the defensive playbook, wide receiver Roman Wilson showed off his quick acceleration.

“There were veterans in the Steelers rookie camp that did not have the same level of burst that he does,” Saunders and Farabaugh wrote. “The 4.39 speed is impressive at the NFL Combine, but the instant acceleration is more impressive.”

In addition to the 4.39 40-yard dash time, Wilson posted a 1.52 10-yard split at the NFL combine. That could make him one of fastest rookie receivers off the line of scrimmage this fall.

The Steelers could be counting on that in a big way during 2024. Pittsburgh has yet to sign a veteran receiver who had more than 209 receiving yards last season.

Unless general manager Omar Khan makes another receiver addition this summer, Roman Wilson could compete to be the team’s No. 2 wideout.

1st-Rounder Troy Fautanu at Right Tackle

One of the biggest question marks with Pittsburgh’s incoming rookie class is where No. 20 overall pick Troy Fautanu will play. If the first day of rookie minicamp is any indication, Fautanu will compete at right tackle.

Saunders and Farabaugh wrote that doesn’t mean Fautanu will stay at right tackle. But it could be an indication that 2023 first-round pick Broderick Jones will switch back to his more natural position of left tackle.

Fautanu never played at right tackle during a game in college. But he’s one of the most versatile offensive linemen of the incoming draft class. He also worked on his footwork and stances at right tackle during the spring.

“The biggest challenge is flipping the footwork,” Fautanu said, via Steelers Now. “You’ve just been playing left for so long, so shout out to my coach back in college, who is making sure that we are comfortable playing both sides, so I’m ready to work and learn there. Whenever we did individual drills every day, we did right hand stances and left hand stances.”

The Steelers drafted Fautanu at No. 20 overall. The team then landed Roman Wilson and Payton Wilson at No. 84 and 98 overall, respectively, during the third round.

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