Monday, April 29, 2013

Steelers Get "Big Play Waiting To Happen" in Wheaton



"I think I can go 4.3." - Markus Wheaton in his introduction conference call with the Pittsburgh Steelers after being selected 79th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft Friday night.

Do you think they purposely selected a player with the initials "M.W.?" In the third round? Also with (supposed) 4.3 speed? But, I digress...

It wasn't who we at If It Ain't Steel wanted, we lobbied hard for West Virginia's Stedman Bailey, but Wheaton still was one of the ones we highlighted as a possibility. His speed was one reason - he ran a 4.45/40 at the NFL Combine, but is confident enough to tout the above - as was his penchant for the big play.

Of him in that article we wrote, "At 6'0", 182 pounds, Wheaton isn’t the biggest receiver in the draft class, but he’s a heck of a playmaker. He’s been compared to Antonio Brown for his ability to break plays open and to run the ball on reverses. Or as CBSSports.com simply puts it, "he's a big play waiting to happen." - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY_G2PWoTMw&feature=youtu.be

The league is all about offense now, and Roethlisberger is good, but he can not do it alone. It was definitely time to get Big Ben the weapons that will fit the offense and help make this offense one of the better in the league. The big plays that will add points to the scoreboard. Wheaton adds to that. Plus, that "big play waiting to happen" is now going to be waiting at the Confluence this fall. And he believes he can play both in the slot and outside.

"I envision myself anywhere....I feel I can produce outside, Wheaton said. He emphasized that a little later by saying that he likes "being all over the place." - http://tinyurl.com/bo3rzsw

Wheaton is a track-trained deep threat who was disappointed at the NFL Combine by "only" running the time previously mentioned. And Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley says that he plays faster - runs routes and makes cuts faster - than that time. As is evidenced by 11 touchdowns in his 91 receptions in 2012 - that's one score just over every eight catches.

Quite a change from the days when true Steeler greats at wide receiver graced the Steel City. Hall of Fame wide receiver John Stallworth garnered just 45 receptions in his first three years. Wheaton had one more than twice that in one college season. Emmanuel Sanders had one fewer last season alone. This is a passing league and weapons are needed, and Wheaton is a weapon.

Per Scouts, Inc. (Gary Horton), some of his attributes include the fact that he is a "quick-twitched and sudden athlete. Fast starter that can eat up cushion. Flashes ability to burst out of break. But can be a bit tight getting in and out of cuts. Does not separate as well as he should on some intermediate routes, but does show ability to throttle quickly from top speed when running comebacks. Impressed with his head and shoulder fakes, and is doing a much better job in 2012 of changing speeds to set up routes."

And as we all know, with great talent comes great responsibility (or something like that), and he's a high-character guy who was voted team captain in 2012.

He's exciting with the ball in his hands and he's tough. He may not be our original choice for a receiver at this position, but his abilities can't be denied.

~

TIDBITS: "Who does Ben Roethlisberger credit with helping turn him into QB he is today? It may come as a surprise." (No, it won't.) - http://sulia.com/channel/pittsburgh-steelers/f/a96aa4d1-6d07-4747-b493-fc96d219e86e/?source=twitter

~

The first day of class for Steelers' rookies, as their minicamp practices commence Friday.

From Friday, May 3rd through Sunday, May 5th, the players go through non-contact drills, sort of like New England Patriots defense in 2012, as the CBA prevents players from wearing pads.