Third Round: 79th Pick
Following a productive career at Oregon State, wide receiver Markus Wheaton seized opportunities to impress evaluators once the regular season ended.
Despite impressing onlookers at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine, however, he remains one of the most underrated prospects in this class.
A savvy competitor with the speed and quickness to hit the home run, Wheaton has the talent to be a big-time player at the next level.
|+ Deep speed and terrific acceleration||- Slightly undersized at just 5'11", 189 pounds|
|+ Shows savvy, is smooth and athletic||- Must improve technique as a run blocker|
|+ Excellent body control||- Lets too many passes into his body|
|+ Competitive player with a high IQ|
Wheaton has been a hot name since his success both at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine.
Last month, in Indianapolis, his physical gifts were on full display. A burner with a track background, he would run a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash. He put in a very solid overall workout and was a top performer on the bench press (20 reps of 225), 20-yard shuttle (4.02) and 60-yard shuttle (11.16). In addition, he also posted an impressive 37” vertical, showing off his leaping ability.
Though Wheaton is a smooth athlete who accelerates quickly, he is relatively undersized (5’11, 189 lbs) with a somewhat narrow frame. Having said that, fairly long (32.75”) arms allow him to play a bit bigger than his size would indicate.
A team captain as a senior, Wheaton appears to be exactly the type of player and person NFL organizations look for.
I came away impressed by his overall effort level when watching. Additionally, his instincts for the position seem to be above-average, and he is generally a smart player with or without the ball.
Under head coach Mike Riley, Oregon State has operated a pro-style offense that incorporates traditional NFL concepts. Wheaton lined up all over the formation, winning battles both outside and in the slot. He was featured in the Beavers offense on the occasional end around, taking 20 or more carries each of the last three seasons.
Wheaton’s ability to release from the line of scrimmage is among the first things that stand out when watching him.
He shows the quickness necessary to beat the jam, escaping press coverage and making defenders pay. When he needs to, Wheaton uses his hands to disengage at the line of scrimmage or downfield.
Tremendous acceleration and speed allow the long-strider to evaporate cushion in the blink of an eye. He is quick to enter his routes, creating immediate separation.
For a 5’11 receiver, Wheaton displays an impressive catch radius. He shows the capability to make plays away from his body, especially on passes thrown above his head. He attacks the ball at its highest point.
Wheaton possesses very good body control, easily adjusting to poorly thrown passes. He tracks the ball well over his shoulder, displaying concentration downfield. Despite his lack of size, he will fight for every ball in the air.
An underrated attribute for college receivers, Wheaton also has excellent sideline awareness, dragging or tapping his feet to stay inbounds.
A savvy player, Wheaton appears to be an above-average route-runner at this stage.
He moves fluidly and explodes out of his breaks, demonstrating the ability to separate at every level. Additionally, he possesses speed to run by defenders and stretch the field vertically.
The more I watched, the more impressed I became by the subtleties in his game. Wheaton willingly crosses the middle of the field, using his hands to disengage in traffic. To create separation, he occasionally uses his eyes and body language to shift coverage or deceive defenders.
He may not always be as crisp as you would like, but has a ton of potential as a route-runner.
Wheaton has good hands, but does not pluck the ball from the air as naturally as some others. He excels at making plays outside his frame, but will let too many into his body when he is able to.
Generally, when I watched, not many passes hit the ground.
Run After Catch
A long-strider who covers ground quickly, Wheaton can be dangerous with the ball in his hands.
Not only does he possess track speed, but he's also fairly elusive, displaying quick, nimble feet. After the catch, he turns to face up and utilizes good vision to gain yards.
Wheaton can be a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball, as he fights for extra yardage and has the burst to pull away from defenders.
Wheaton rarely makes an impact as a run blocker. I am impressed with his overall effort level, as he will work to pick up blocks downfield.
He must improve his technique, though. Wheaton shows the ability to wall off defenders, but not drive or steer them.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
An explosive deep threat capable of stretching the field, Wheaton will appeal to teams that want to emphasize the vertical passing game. Likewise, his savvy route-running and ability to separate at every level will be valued in other schemes.
Wheaton has the potential to play a variety of wide receiver positions, showing the ability to win both from the slot and outside. While some see his ceiling as a secondary option in the NFL, I believe he has the talent and athleticism to develop into a star.
Draft Projection: Late First-Early Third Round
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