Sleepers Steelers drafted who could become stars in the near future

All eyes are on Pittsburgh's top draft picks, but these three sleepers have the physical gifts to be stars if they can reach their upside.
Sep 9, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack linebacker Payton Wilson
Sep 9, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack linebacker Payton Wilson / Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

You won't find many Steelers fans complaining about the haul Omar Khan was able to rake in during the 2024 NFL Draft. One year after being praised for his brilliance in his first draft as GM, Khan received a figurative standing ovation for his selections this year.

For some players drafted, expectations are high. Offensive linemen like OT Troy Fautanu and C Zach Frazier are expected to start very early in their NFL careers. Others picked later in the draft will have to work their way up the proverbial ladder of the Steelers' depth chart.

Pittsburgh placed an emphasis on landing athletes with upside, and these Steelers sleepers could become stars in the near future.

LB Payton Wilson

It's hard to be a 'sleeper' when you're arguably the best linebacker in the nation. Everyone knows about Payton Wilson and they know how talented he is. However, 32 teams passed on this player roughly 3 times in the 2024 NFL Draft, and he will be out to prove doubters wrong.

Wilson slipped to the 98th overall pick in the draft due to his extensive injury history which includes multiple ACL tears and shoulder injuries. In fact, Wilson has been playing without an ACL in one knee.

That hasn't stopped him from being one of the biggest defensive playmakers in the country and it didn't keep him from running a 4.43 at the NFL Combine. As long as Wilson can stay on the field, he has a great chance to be one of the biggest sleepers in the draft this year.

OG Mason McCormick

The fourth round is an ideal spot to gamble on high-upside prospects from small schools. Mason McCormick raised eyebrows throughout the pre-draft process thanks to his awesome film, but the underwhelming level of competition at South Dakota State ultimately made him a Day 3 draft pick.

With the 119th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh couldn't pass up the impressive offensive guard. In addition to putting on a clinic and grading out as one of the best guards in the country as a senior in 2023, McCormick also tested as a generational athlete at the position -- earning a 9.96 Relative Athletic Score out of 10, via

McCormick is unlikely to see the field on offense during his rookie season, barring injuries, but he has the prototype frame and traits to develop into a starting-level center in the NFL. This is all you could hope for from a fourth-round pick.

CB Ryan Watts

Most late-round draft picks don't have much star potential, but Ryan Watts is a very intriguing player. The former Ohio State and Texas cornerback was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and has tantalizing measurables.

At 6'3'' and 208 pounds with 34 1/2'' arms, Watts instantly becomes one of the longest defensive backs in the NFL. But he doesn't just have elite size for the CB position. Watts posted a 40.5'' vertical and a blazing 6.82 3-cone drill to go with a respectable 4.53 speed.

Watts isn't technically refined yet and needs to be more disciplined, but his remarkable physical gifts give the 22-year-old a shot to be a star for the Steelers at either cornerback or safety with good coaching and refinement.