Brock’s Seahawks Draft Profile: ‘Twitched up’ LB fills a need

Mar 27, 2024, 2:30 PM

Next up in Brock Huard’s Seattle Seahawks draft profiles is an linebacker in North Carolina State’s Payton Wilson.

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Wilson, 23, was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, a unanimous All-American selection and the winner of the Butkus (best linebacker in the nation) and Chuck Bednarik (best defender in the nation) awards in 2023.

Now, Wilson is seen as one of the top linebacker prospects in this year’s NFL Draft, which is officially less than a month away from kicking off.

Here’s what Huard, a longtime college football analyst who calls games for FOX Sports, had to say.

‘Twitched up’ Payton Wilson fills a need for Seahawks

“This is a position of need. There’s wants and then there’s needs. You need interior offensive linemen and you need linebackers,” Huard said. “Yes, you paid a couple guys on short-term deals and one-year deals for (Tyrel) Dotson and Jerome Baker, but you need other pieces in there.

“And this guy is twitched up now, man. He is 6 foot 4, at the combine he was 233 (pounds). And I think again, his counsel, agents said, ‘Hey, cut a little weight because you played at about 240 in college, cut a little weight and be as explosive as you can possibly be.’ And boy was he ever at the combine.

“He ran at 6-4, 230 a 4.43 (second) 40 (yard dash). That is wide receiver (speed). That is faster than Rome Odunze ran at the combine. That is a fast wide receiver speed with a 10-yard split of 1.54 (seconds). He (vertical) jumped nearly 35 inches and broad jumped nearly 10 feet. The dude is twitched up.”

Huard didn’t get to call any of Wilson’s games at NC State, but he almost did. Huard was going to be on the call for the the 2021 Holiday Bowl, but that got canceled due to COVID.

“And I remember leading up to that game looking at this dude’s productivity and thinking, ‘Man, this guy, he is long, he’s fast, he is twitchy. This dude’s a playmaker and he was super, super productive,'” Huard recalled.

“Leverage, toughness, agility, (he’s) got all of it, checks all of those boxes and is an absolute need. And (this year is) a pretty lean draft for inside linebackers. You’re going to hear me talk about Junior Colson in a couple of weeks as well, the big kind of thumper (linebacker) out of Michigan. I think it’s him, and I think it’s this kid as far as need goes.”

Medicals the key for Payton Wilson

“If there’s one player in my 20 draft profiles that will fall under the medical decision more than anybody else, even more than (UW Huskies quarterback) Michael Penix, it’s gonna be Payton Wilson because the medicals will tell everything of where he falls. He tore his ACL and missed his senior year of high school. Tore his ACL and missed his freshman year at NC State. He turns 24 in three weeks because he was there six years. He had another season-ending injury in ’21 as well, his then-sophomore year. So two season-ending injuries in college, a season-ending injury in high school. Around all of that was, I don’t know, 39 tackles for loss and 13 sacks as a (high school) junior and Ohio State and Clemson and everybody came out of the woodwork wanting him, and then he missed his senior year and as I said, ended up at NC State (with) two ACL (tears), three season-ending injuries over his career. That makes you really, really nervous.”

“This injury list is scary. And this is one that (Seattle’s vice president of health and player performance) Sam Ramsden and the medical guys there and the training staff at the Seahawks may give a go or no go and just simply say, ‘Can’t do it. Can’t draft him in the first couple rounds because this injury history is too debilitating. You’re not going to get the most out of him.’ Or it could be kind of like Penix, ‘Clean bill of health. Those things are all in the past, he played the last two seasons and played phenomenally well and he has a frame that can sustain in the NFL.’ This will be a medical (decision) more than anything else moving forward.”

Hear Brock Huard’s full Seattle Seahawks draft profile of North Carolina State linebacker Payton Wilson in the podcast at this link, or in either the video or audio player near the top of this post. Catch a new profile at 9 a.m. on every edition of Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk leading up to the NFL Draft.

More Seattle Seahawks draft coverage

Brock Huard’s Seahawks Draft Profiles: Penn State’s eye-opening TE
• GM John Schneider on if Sam Howell impacts Seahawks in the NFL Draft
• Huard: What recent signing may signal for Seahawks in the draft
• Rost: What we’ve learned about Seahawks from draft experts
• Lefko: Seahawks’ free agency points to clear direction with 1st-round pick
• Seattle Seahawks Mock Draft Roundup: UW’s Fautanu remains popular at 16

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