2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Payton Wilson




  • Payton Wilson, 6-4/234
  • Linebacker
  • N.C. State

Payton Wilson Scouting Report

By Charlie Campbell

Strengths:

  • Excellent blitzer
  • Serious downhill burst
  • Good speed
  • Rangy
  • Good instincts
  • Reads his keys well
  • Covers ground in zone
  • Good vision to read a quarterback’s eyes
  • Speed to the sideline
  • Burst to eat up ground
  • Good height, length
  • Good ball skills for a linebacker
  • Athletic upside
  • Wraps up well as a tackler
  • Athletic
  • Good pursuit linebacker
  • Upside

Weaknesses:

  • Lacks strength
  • Needs to get thicker in the upper and lower body
  • Drag-down tackler
  • Needs to work on taking on and shedding blocks
  • Can get bumped around in the box
  • Needs physical development

Prospect Summary:

Wilson was one of the nation’s best linebackers in 2023, producing a massively for the Wolfpack. On the year, he totaled 138 tackles, six sacks, one forced fumble, three interceptions and six passes broken up. Wilson then had a quality week at the Senior Bowl.

There is no doubt that Wilson looks likely to be an excellent blitzer for the NFL. He has a serious burst to eat up ground and can be a hard charger who dodges blockers while flying to the quarterback. Thanks to excellent straight-line speed, Wilson eats up ground in a hurry, and he is very dangerous on delayed blitzes. Wilson will trick the line into thinking he is staying in coverage before he finds an opening and explodes in to find the quarterback. With his speed, Wilson can also rush off the edge and blow by blockers in a blur. As a pro, Wilson could be a valuable contributor in the pass rush given his blitzing skills.

In pass coverage, Wilson is able to contribute as well. He can move around the field in space in zone coverage, picking up receivers and covering up options. Wilson shows nice read-and-react skills, giving him the ability to eat up ground through speed. Wilson will need some coaching on technique if his system requires him to play some man coverage on tight ends or running backs, but the potential is there for Wilson to potentially handle such duties.

In the ground game, Wilson is a good pursuit linebacker who uses his sideline-to-sideline speed to chase down backs. Thanks to his good instincts, Wilson is always around the ball and puts himself in position to make a lot of plays. He has a serious burst and attacks downhill. However for the NFL, Wilson is a linebacker who needs some development. He is lean in both the upper and lower parts of his body, so getting stronger is a necessity. Wilson can get bounced around by offensive linemen, and he will need to work on taking on and shedding blocks from pro offensive linemen. The lack of strength can be seen in Wilson being a drag-down tackler. He wraps up well, but adding more power will make him a better tackler as a pro.

Team sources said they think Wilson could go on the second day of the 2024 NFL Draft. They said he could become a starter but will need some development. A year in the strength and conditioning program could do a lot to help Wilson’s growth into being a potential starter.

Prospect Comparison:

Barrett Ruud. Wilson reminds me somewhat of Ruud. Ruud was a fast and instinctive linebacker over his career. Ruud (6-2, 240) also lacked some strength and was a drag-down tackler, but he did produce some big tackle totals in his prime with Tampa Bay. As a pro, Wilson could be similar to Ruud.





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