Analyst Predicts Steelers Rookies Will Win Both Rookie of the Year Awards

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a whole lot of praise heaped on them for the way the 2024 NFL Draft played out for them.

Without having to move around the draft board, the team was able to make significant additions in areas of need across their roster.

As good as the draft class looks right now, it could look even better after the season if one analyst gets his prediction right about wide receiver Roman Wilson and linebacker Payton Wilson.

During an episode of NFL Network’s NFL Total Access, Rhett Lewis predicted that the former NC State linebacker would win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2024.

“Sign him up already for a hundred tackles already,” Lewis said (via Steelers Depot’s Alex Kozora). “It’s gonna happen. He was an absolute monster on the field for NC State. [He has a] GPS to the football. Blew up the [NFL Scouting] Combine with his athleticism. He’s had some injury concerns, which led to the fall down the draft board, but he landed in a great spot there.”

He then added that he thinks the former Michigan wide receiver will win Offensive rookie of the year, giving the Steelers a sweep of the rookie awards.

“I’m giving (OROY) to Roman Wilson. So Roman Wilson and Payton Wilson…there it is your rookies of the year.”

A Tough Task for Roman Wilson

There is already a clear favorite to be the NFL’s OROY in 2024. Caleb Williams was the top pick in the draft and the Bears have set him up for success.

With Keenan Allen, D.J. Moore, Rome Odunze, Cole Kmet, and D’Andre Swift all part of the Bears’ offense, Williams is going to have plenty of weapons to lean on in his rookie year.

The numbers also don’t really work in Wilson’s favor.

He had the best season of his college career in 2023. That season saw him make 48 catches for 789 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The offense he’ll be joining in the NFL doesn’t lend itself to him improving on those numbers.

Over the last five years, Arthur Smith spent two seasons as an offensive coordinator and three as a head coach.

His WR2 only reached 789 yards once in those five years and never reached 1000 yards.

In 2023, Mack Hollins finished as the WR2 for the Falcons. He made 18 catches for 251 yards.

Last season, Puka Nacua set the NFL records for catches and receiving yards for a rookie with 105 catches for 1486 yards. He didn’t win Rookie of the Year.

In fact, just three of the last ten Offensive Rookies of the Year have been receivers.

Ja’Marr Chase had 81 catches for 1455 yards. Garrett Wilson had 83 catches for 1103 in a rookie class that only had one QB selected in the first round and that QB was Kenny Pickett. Odell Beckham Jr. had 91 catches for 1305 yards in just 12 games as a rookie.

Each of those receivers was also the top option on their respective teams.

Wilson should be a solid WR2 for the Steelers, but it would be a pretty big surprise for him to put up the kind of numbers needed to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Could Payton Wilson Win the Award for the Steelers?

The field seems a bit more wide open on the defensive side of the ball.

While there was plenty of offensive firepower taken off the board early in this year’s draft, the first defensive player didn’t come off the board until pick 15.

The class certainly didn’t lack talent, but it also didn’t have anybody that was considered a “must have” talent like we’ve seen in recent drafts with Sauce Gardner and Will Anderson.

That could give Wilson a chance to become just the third player in the last 20 years to win the award after being drafted outside of round one.

In college, he didn’t have the same production issue as the other Wilson the Steelers drafted in round three.

As a sophomore at NC State, he racked up 108 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks during the 2020 season.

An injury limited him to just two games the following year and he only made 82 tackles in 2022, but he got back to being extremely productive in 2023.

This past season, Wilson has 138 total tackles with 17.5 for a loss, 6 sacks, and 3 interceptions in 12 games.

If Wilson can beat out Elandon Roberts and Cole Holcomb for the second starting spot at inside linebacker alongside Patrick Queen, he’d have a chance to continue putting up big numbers.

If he does, he’ll end up having been an absolute steal for the Steelers in the third round.

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