NC State LB Payton Wilson values ‘football IQ’ at NFL Combine

Payton Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS — 2023 Butkus Award-winning linebacker Payton Wilson from NC State is ready for the next stage of his football career.

Wilson won the top award for linebackers after producing a career-high 138 tackles, 17.5 for loss, nine passes defended, six sacks and three interceptions. He enters the NFL Combine among the most intriguing prospects at his position.

Wilson said he thinks the mental game of football helps a linebacker best play up to their ability. He said he values a strong understanding of the game, and it could be something that helps him at the next level in the NFL.

“I think it’s football IQ,” Wilson told the media on Wednesday afternoon. “Understanding route concepts, understanding whether it’s a condensed split, split out wide, just watching tape and understanding what’s coming. I think talent and speed can only take you so far, but if you have the football IQ to understand route concepts that are coming behind you, more importantly, understanding what your defense is doing so you know where you have to be, know where the holes are.”