Steelers select Markus Wheaton in the third
Wheaton might not be biggest receiver in the 2013 draft class, but he towers above the last two playmakers coming out of Corvallis - Jacquizz and James Rodgers, who averaged about 5-foot-6, 190 pounds at their respective combines. His athleticism certainly matches up with the Rodgers brothers, as well, because not only was Wheaton a solid high school football talent among the best players coming out of Arizona in 2008, but he also won 400- and 800-meter races at junior national track meets before also performing well in state high school meets.
His speed and athleticism translated onto the field as a true freshman, as he was used on fly sweeps (11 rushes for 79 yards and a score) and as a reserve receiver (8-89). Wheaton led the Beavers in receiving in 2010, starting eight of 12 games played with James Rodgers on the sideline (55-675, four TD) and was again used regularly on sweeps (27-220, two TD), finishing the year with a 10-catch, 137-yard effort against rival Oregon (where his cousin, Kenny, played in the mid-1990s) in the Civil War. He earned honorable mention All-Pac 12 honors while starting all 12 games as a junior, again leading the team in receiving (73-986, TD) and contributing as a runner (25-190).
In 2012, Wheaton eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier, catching 91 passes for 1,244 yards and 11 touchdowns.
STRENGTHS His quickness is blatant and dangerous. Whether taking off from the slot or outside, his feet are literally a step ahead of his defender on everything from speed outs, crossers, to jerk routes. Displays the flexibility to grab throws behind him or over his shoulder when running deep. Hell also extend away from his body to bring in high or wide throws, and will stutter on the sideline to ensure he makes the catch in-bounds. Possesses some thickness to his frame, and is willing to lower his shoulder to get the extra yard often diving under defenders to get as many as possible. Wheaton also dabbled in track while at OSU, reminding scouts of his elite speed.
WEAKNESSES While he can elude defenders in the open field, hes not necessarily elite making men miss after the catch. Too often he will let the ball into his frame as opposed to attacking it. Will round off deeper pattern that consist of him coming back to the quarterback. Can be overwhelmed by physical corners in his route, and especially at the line of scrimmage. Inconsistent as a blocker. Willing, but too often will fall off his block, or allow his man to simply overpower him.
NFL COMPARISON Antonio Brown
BOTTOM LINE In 2012, Wheaton became the Beavers' all-time leader in receptions. Wheaton used his track speed to break off long runs from short routes and get behind defenders for big plays. Wheaton isn't solely limited to the slot, and he will likely find himself as a first or second round selection due to his ability to test defenses horizontally and vertically.