Steelers Draft Grades: WR Pick Not Very Impressive

The Pittsburgh Steelers settled with their selection in the third round of the NFL Draft.
Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Roman Wilson (1) against the
Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Roman Wilson (1) against the / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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The Pittsburgh Steelers had an obvious wide receiver need going into day two of the draft that was created by the trade of Diontae Johnson, which left a glaring hole for the Steelers on the outside. Did the Steelers find that player in Roman Wilson and just what did respected major analysts have to say about the pick at hand:

Dane Brugler: 41st overall, WR 8

“A three-year starter at Michigan, Wilson worked primarily out of the slot in offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore’s pro-style scheme, running mostly inbreakers, like crossers, slants, etc. (71.7 percent of his catches in 2023 came between the numbers). He became the go-to weapon for the Wolverines’ national championship team and was one of just 10 FBS players in 2023 with at least 12 receiving touchdowns (79.2 percent of his catches resulted in a first down or touchdown). Wilson has a strong sense of the biomechanics of his athleticism to make crisp speed cuts without breaking stride, which creates separation and gives his quarterback a target. However, not every route is a race, and he needs further development with his pacing, early (releases) and late. Overall, Wilson is a speedy slot with the hands and competitive makeup to pester defenses and consistently move the sticks. He has the talent to win a starting role for an NFL offense.”

Lance Zierlein: 51st overall, WR 10

“Smooth strider with alarming speed once he touches top gear. Wilson primarily focused on attacking the intermediate and deep portions of the field, adding an explosive element to the Wolverines’ ground-and-pound approach. Wilson is an electrifying athlete, which should push his stock up, but he'll need to learn to level up his skill getting from Point A to Point B as a route-runner to reach his potential. Wilson has good hands and can run after the catch down the field, but he’s not really a catch-and-go option underneath. He has the separation potential to make a quarterback’s life easier and figures to continue his ascension as a starting slot talent.”

My Analysis: 125th overall, WR 20

Wilson brings a shorter but slightly compact frame to the table. Notable speed and acceleration that Michigan often took advantage of by giving him running starts from motion looks and condensed bunches to give him free releases, especially on crossing routes (particularly over routes).

Strong blocker who showcases a ton of grit and effort, keeps his hands tight to the inside, and isn’t afraid to finish with authority. He should become a focal point of an offensive game plan in regards to funneling runs toward his side of the formation.

Has a strong awareness of zone leverage and where to break/stem his route to give him the most optimal pathing to work open.

Struggles as a pure man-to-man separator on the outside without motions to give him runway or when separated from condensed bunches as he does not have a defined plan in terms of how to utilize his release package. Can often get engulfed by contact at the top of routes and while he has reliable hands, he needs stronger hand usage to create that last-minute separation to stack on top that would give him more feasible windows for the quarterback to test.

Grade: C+

I will admit this may seem harsh and it has less to do with Roman Wilson as it does with other players who were remaining on the board. Much of the difference in where he rested on my board versus other respected analysts has to do with how I see him outside of that offensive scheme and the thing about the Steelers is they will use him in a similar type of role. 

He will be a valuable utility player in the run game and I have no doubt he can be a solid number three receiver from within the slot, but there were plenty of number two caliber options available that might have provided a more scheme-proof level option. There still exists the potential for the Steelers to go in that direction on day three of the draft and could make this pick look even better as a result.

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Nicholas Martin


Nicholas has been watching the Steelers his entire life. He has been writing about the Steelers since 2016. Prior to All Steelers, he contributed over at Behind The Steel Curtain.