We take a look at a somewhat under-the-radar wide receiver prospect in this year's draft. Markus Wheaton has been a bit overshadowed by other high-profile prospects, but has an impressive college resume.
Over the past couple of years, we have dedicated some posts at Cincy Jungle to some draft prospects that seem to slip a bit unnoticed. One position that the Bengals could be looking at relatively high this year is wide receiver, and the 2013 Draft has a plethora of talent at the position. One such player is Oregon State's Markus Wheaton.
Before the Combine, Wheaton wasn't talked about much as a top prospect. It could be because of Wheaton's size, which isn't overly impressive (5'11", 190 pounds), as well as the notion that he translates more to a slot receiver on the surface. However, a solid time in the 40-yard dash (4.45 seconds), the 20 and 60-yard shuttles, as well as the bench press, and people began to talk a bit more about Wheaton's future in the NFL.
Unfortunately, scouts initially glossed over Wheaton's impressive college career, but the solid showing at the Combine changed that. Wheaton left Oregon State as their all-time leader in receptions--no easy feat for a school that had former standouts at the position in Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (though both were transfer students). Wheaton finished with 227 career receptions, with 91 of those coming in his senior year. It was his abilities outside of being a receiver that also sets Wheaton apart from other players at the position in this year's draft. The Beavers used Wheaton as a running back on on reverses often (as they did with the Rodgers brothers), averaging over 20 carries in his last three seasons. It's probably because Mike Riley and his offense wanted to take advantage of his track team speed--something he did on the side in Corvallis.
In college, Wheaton proved that he can play both outside and in the slot and be productive. He is surprisingly physical for his size and will fight for the extra yard--again, a trait that made it likely for the team to use him as a back as well as a receiver. His speed and hands will make him a threat in multiple formations and routes at the NFL level. He finished his impressive senior season with 91 catches, 1,244 yards and 13 total touchdowns (11 receiving, two rushing)--despite inconsistent quarterback play.
Wheaton is likely to land somewhere between the second and the fourth round, depending on when the run on receivers begins. Take a look at this short highlight video of Wheaton. You'll see some good things out of him, including making catches in traffic, tightroping the sideline, and outrunning defenders.