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During his five years at NC State, linebacker Payton Wilson had a few fantastic seasons. As a sophomore in 2020, he racked up 108 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks. Two years later, it was 82 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. And as a senior in 2023, he had an incredible 138 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, and 6.0 sacks.

There was near-universal agreement in the draft community that Wilson is a very good player, and a high-caliber prospect. The issue is that he had double-digit surgeries since his senior year of high school, including two on the same ACL, one on each shoulder, and a second surgery on one shoulder after he dislocated it. So instead of being a potential first-rounder, Wilson was considered a possible Day 2 selection with the potential to fall into Day 3.

He ended up lasting until the third-to-last pick of the third round, where the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him at No. 98 overall. And Wilson feels like he has a Steelers-esque attitude. 

"I like to take people's heads off and I like to fly around with the best of them," Wilson said during an appearance on new teammate Cameron Heyward's podcast, according to Steelers Depot. What, exactly does that mean?

"If there's 75 plays, I'm just the kind of person that wants to make 75 tackles, whatever it is," he said. "That's just how I've played. Grew up in a very blue-collared area, grew up wrestling. So, that mentality's kind of been instilled in me my whole life. Like, I don't know, when I'm out there and someone's got the ball in their hands, I want to hit them so bad. I want to be the first person there every single time."

The Steelers have been good on defense for a while now, but they've also been searching for improved linebacker play. If Wilson can stay healthy, he should be able to provide it. But the health is obviously a major question given his track record, and that's why the Steelers were able to land him as late as they did.