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Payton Wilson 2024 NFL Draft Profile

Payton Wilson
What do you need to know about NC State linebacker, Payton Wilson? Let’s discuss it with his 2024 NFL Draft Profile! (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Payton Wilson 2024 NFL Draft Profile

If you read my notes from the Combine, you already know that I have Payton Wilson pegged as the best linebacker in the 2024 NFL Draft. We’re going to talk about why next on the 2024 NFL Draft Profile series!

Just going back to the Combine quickly, the guy just put on a total clinic. Checks in at 6-foot-4, 233, and ran a 4.43. Oh, and just totally aced all of the movement skills in space. Wilson was also at the Senior Bowl and checked that box too. He’s a huge winner for the pre-draft stuff.

I love this player and this is a total flag plant type of guy for me. When your Mike is slow, your defense is slow. Wilson can run, obviously, and more than that he has an edge. Wilson comes from a wrestling background and was damn good at it. NC State isn’t exactly a powerhouse for football prospects but Wilson was a highly recruited guy in his own right. Hillsborough, North Carolina native is a former four star recruit and a top 40 guy nationally during the 2018 cycle.

Bit on the older side and will turn 24 this month. We can find negatives if you look hard enough. There is some injury stuff to dig through. Didn’t play as a freshman because of knee injuries suffered during his senior year of high school. Arrested in December 2019 for a flurry of issues including having a fake ID, underage drinking, injury to personal property, and resisting a police officer. Maybe that’s a red flag but I can promise you that wrestlers are built differently and kids on my team did things far worse. Got back on track in 2020 making First-team All-ACC but suffered a pair of dislocated shoulder down the stretch. Then missed basically the entire 2021 season with shoulder issues.

Wilson has an injury history and one off-the-field issue. That’s what the haters will and should point to. The guy we saw in 2023, Wilson had a light bulb moment and we saw a taste of what’s to come at the next level. The former NC State product won a bevy of awards including the Chuck Bednarik Defensive Player of the Year Award, the Butkus Award, First-team Associated Press All-American. ACC Defensive Player of the Year. First-team All-ACC. Finalist for the Nagurski Trophy. That’s to go along with a stat line of 138 tackles, 17.5 TFLs, three interceptions, 6 PBUs, and a forced fumble.

When healthy and clicking, Wilson is a rare breed any team should want in the middle of their defense. He’s just always around the ball and impacting the game. Excellent in the run and chase game and prevents big plays from happening. Can rush the passer as a third down blitzer and has the athletic make up to roam in coverage. Think he looks great doing it whether it be man or zone.

I think Payton Wilson is a first round player that I’m dying to have in the 2nd or 3rd round. He’s a flag plant guy for me and the best linebacker in the draft. Just too athletic and tough to fail. By the way, he comes from a family of athletes as his brother Bryse is a pitcher for the Brewers. I’m so in here.

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