It was no secret that the Steelers needed to address the wide receiver position this past offseason. Thankfully, one of the players who Kevin Colbert & Co. acquired has already made quite the impression on veteran cornerback Ike Taylor: Markus Wheaton.
We got a rookie in Wheaton who’s not playing like a rookie, dosen’t act like a rookie; he looks like a veteran. Of course he’s going to make rookie mistakes because he’s a rookie. But just watching over the course of the past few weeks, the guy’s smart, the guy’s polished. I can’t wait to see him playing during the season.
I for one am excited to hear such positive things about Wheaton, although I am hardly surprised. Living in Pac-12 country, I watched quite a bit of the pass-catcher during his successful collegiate career at Oregon State. In fact, I saw him destroy the Arizona Wildcats first-hand last fall when he burned them for 10 catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns in one game alone.
Wheaton’s was the Beavers’ primary pass-catcher during his final two years at the school, and without a doubt their most electrifying play-maker. Overall, Markus hauled in 164 passes for 2,230 yards and 12 touchdowns in addition to 332 yards and two scores on the ground.
I for one liked Wheaton’s ability to not only stretch the field vertically in the passing game, but horizontally as well. In my opinion, he is already a better route-runner than Mike Wallace was at this stage in his career and has better field vision with the ball in his hands than Wallace did as a rookie as well.
How much Wheaton will eventually play during the regular season has still yet to be determined. Yet the former Beaver’s 4.3 speed and agility will definitely make him a welcome addition to Pittsburgh’s offense this fall, especially since Wallace left for “greener pastures” in South Beach back in March.
Wallace aside, it would be downright fantastic to see Wheaton emerge as a pass-catching threat for Pittsburgh during his rookie campaign. Plus, the more reps that the pass-catcher can receive, then the more comfortable the Steelers will be when the contracts of Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery expire at the end of the season.
For now though, we will just have to “wait and see” with Wheaton and hope that he can continue to improve and chip in more and more as the season wears on for Pittsburgh.
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