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2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Payton Wilson (LB – North Carolina St.)

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Payton Wilson (LB – North Carolina St.)

As the college football season inches toward its finish, FantasyPros will be taking a look at early NFL Draft scouting reports before the Combine in March. Here’s a look at Payton Wilson.

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Payton Wilson

Payton Wilson (LB – North Carolina St.)

6’4″ – 238 lbs.

Background:

Brother is MLB pitcher Bryse Wilson. Four-star recruit despite tearing his ACL as a high school senior then reinjured the knee and redshirted the 2018 season. Appeared in 11 games, starting one and totaling 366 snaps the next year en route to a 69-5.0-0.0 line. Started the next year and went 108-11.5-3.5, then went down for the year two games into the following season. Returned to post 82-12.5-4.5 in 2022, and has made 2023 by far his best and most productive season.

Positives:

Big linebacker who has four years of productive play under his belt, and has gotten better each year, taking a major leap in 2023. Lines up all over: as a traditional off-ball linebacker, on the edge, and shaded over slot receivers. Energetic, high-motor player with the speed to play sideline to sideline. Reads keys quickly and doesn’t take many false steps in pursuit. Accelerates quickly when playing downhill. Shows impressive suddenness/short-area quickness to slip past blockers. Aggressive approach allows him to make a lot of plays in opposing backfields.

Gets good extension to play off of blocks, and has active hands to shed and work his way to the ball. Shows some ability to set the edge when lined up off the tackle in a two-point stance. Very reliable tackler whose length gives him a good radius, and who shows impressive closing burst. Diagnoses route combinations well from zone. Able to shade over the slot and use his length to disrupt timing. Makes a lot of plays on the ball, with seven career interceptions and 13 breakups as of the time of writing. Has been a pretty productive pass-rusher, with increasing production. Gets his hands up to contest passing lanes.

Negatives:

A sixth-year linebacker who has sustained three serious injuries, so medicals will be important. High-intensity approach leads to some snaps in which he appears out of control. Occasional balance issues crop up and don’t always appear to have the most stable base when taking on blocks. There are some minor inefficiencies in his pursuit angles as he works around blocks. Doesn’t have the most flexible ankles as an edge rusher, and relies more on intensity than a clear plan.

Summary:

Looks like one of the most energetic, versatile, and impactful linebackers in the draft on tape, but his age and injury history are concerns that could affect his draft stock, making it hard to project exactly where he’ll end up. If his medicals check out, teams should be interested in his high-intensity style of play, sound diagnostic skills, speed, and reliable tackling. Would fit best in an aggressive swarming defense in which he’s able to run free behind a big four-man line.

Projection: Round 4

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