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Queen’s Steelers Impact: From Mentee to Mentor for Payton Wilson

When the Baltimore Ravens drafted LSU linebacker Patrick Queen in the first-round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the organization wanted instant results in the heart of their defense. Losing inside linebackers Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor to free agency left a massive void in the center of the defense.

Queen’s performance early on was met with mixed criticism as he showed flashes of talent while also struggling at times. He spent two full seasons being the main inside linebacker, the supposed leader who was only 21 and 22 years of age. Being so young and not having a true veteran inside linebacker partner to lean on, Queen had to figure things out for himself.

In 2022, Queen’s entire football situation changed for the better. The Ravens decided to trade for Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith, a player who had a combined 607 total tackles in four and a half seasons in the NFL. Smith’s experience was much needed for a youthful, up and coming athlete like Queen. The arrival of Smith not only propelled the Ravens’ defense to new heights, it statistically improved Queen’s numbers as well as gave him a mentor that could teach him new ways of playing the game.

Spending two seasons with Smith and his leadership gave Queen the best situation a young player in the NFL could ask for. Now that the Steelers signed Queen this offseason to the largest free agency contract in the team’s history, a three-year $41 million contract, he can take his lessons that he learned from his mentor and apply it to a new generation of players, specifically rookie linebacker Payton Wilson.

Wilson was an absolute steal in the 2024 NFL Draft, as he had a few health scares that many organizations were just not too comfortable with. He ended up dropping to the third-round (pick 98), and could be a dark horse candidate on a defense that has improved significantly (on paper) from a season ago.

Just recently, Wilson opened up about playing alongside Queen and what he has learned from the now veteran NFL linebacker.

Queen was given a lot of responsibilities as a young player just coming out of college in 2020. He grew mentally throughout his early days with the Ravens, and can now provide key lessons and teachings to the newer players just like Roquan Smith did when he was in his second year in Baltimore. This is a win, win situation and a storyline that I will be paying close attention to.

Not only will Wilson learn from Queen, but he also has a multitude of other Steelers defenders who he can grab key pieces of information from. Being a rookie prospect with so much promise, the Steelers have the perfect situation and veteran leadership on defense to provide and help grow these players.

Let us know in the comment section below if you think Queen will be the most instrumental player for Wilson in 2024 or if you have another player or players in mind.


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