In large part thanks to his blazing speed, Markus Wheaton saw the field early in his Oregon State career. As a true freshman, he was frequently used on end-arounds (he had eleven carries for 79 yards and a score) and also caught a few passes. With a bit of seasoning under his belt, Wheaton led the Beavers in receiving in 2010, and was again used regularly on sweeps (27-220, two TD). As a junior, his numbers increased; he started all 12 games, leading the team in receiving (73-986, TD) for the second year in a row, and meriting honorable mention All-Pac 12 honors. In 2012, Wheaton earned First Team All-Pac 12 laurels after a breakout 91-grab, 1,244 yards and 11 touchdown season. He finished his time in Corvallis as Oregon State’s all-time record holder with 227 career receptions.
Wheaton’s most obvious asset is his track-worthy speed. He combines this with tremendous quickness to zoom past defenders, and to cut without slowing down. Every time he lines up, whether he catches or runs with the ball, he’s a big play waiting to happen; no wonder he has drawn comparisons to ex-Steeler Mike Wallace. During Senior Bowl week, Wheaton consistently ran around and through defensive backs. But he’s not merely a track athlete in pads; Wheaton displays toughness, willingly making receptions over the middle, and seeking extra yardage when running in heavy traffic.
His speed and explosiveness are evident on tape. Thanks once again to the excellent fellows at Draft Breakdown, we have video of Wheaton in action against Pac-12 rivals Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State, and UCLA, as well as a non-conference tilt against BYU. His skillset was also evident at the Combine, where he recorded top times in the 40-yard dash (4.45), vertical jump (37-inches), short shuttle (4.02), long shuttle (11.16) and bench press (20 reps).
Plus, he’s an “RKG.” Wheaton’s teammates voted him team captain.
What does our prescient panel of pigskin prognosticators proclaim about Wheaton’s productive proclivities? Peruse, pals…
ESPN/ Scouts, Inc. (Gary Horton): 10th-rated WR; 87th overall
Separation Skills: 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 (see: 5:45 2nd QTR vs. UCLA). Needs to continue to add bulk and strength as a route runner. Also can do a better job of wading through traffic working against zone coverage. Does show a good feel for soft spots