Breakout Could Be on Horizon for Wheaton in 2014

Shamarko & WheatonWhen I started looking at Markus Wheaton last year (before he was drafted), I thought that he looked ready to step into the Steelers offense immediately.

Wheaton was a small-ish receiver that was dangerous in space, and was used a number of ways at Oregon State. He had a quick first step, which allowed him to get a lot of work on bubble screens, as well as track speed to get deep.

To me, he looked like a combination of Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown honestly. I pegged him as a second rounder. You can imagine my excitement when the Steelers stole him in the third round.

If you search the scouting reports, the words “game breaker” show up a lot.

Then during the 2014 season, Wheaton just never really emerged. He didn’t disappoint, but he just never got on the field. I think it’s reasonable to assume that means he didn’t look ready in practice.

Houston radio host, and son of former Steelers Asst. OL coach Larry Zierlein, Lance Zierlein stated on twitter that he thought when the Steelers drafted Wheaton, that he could be the best receiver on the team by the end of 2014, saying they would “love his speed, competitiveness & willingness to block.”

I asked Lance recently if he still thought that, given the breakout season by Antonio Brown, and he wasn’t backing down in his praise of the young receiver… and I agree with him.

ESPN reported a couple of weeks ago that with Emmanuel Sanders almost guaranteed to sign elsewhere, Wheaton’s snap count could triple in 2014, if he earns it.

Well, Wheaton has already started working towards earning his playing time.

Some photos popped up on twitter this week of Ben Roethlisberger working out with Markus Wheaton and Derek Moye at Velocity Sports Performance in California.

Wheaton getting on the same page with Ben will be crucial to his development in the offense, as well as earning trust from his Quarterback in big moments.

We already knew that Markus had all the physical tools to be a star in the NFL, in his second season he’s going to have every opportunity to earn the #2 receiver spot, and it appears that he’s putting in the work to make it happen.

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15 comments on “Breakout Could Be on Horizon for Wheaton in 2014

  1. The thing I really like about Wheaton is, even if he doesnt quite make it is a #2 guy, I think he becomes a great #3 “slot” type receiver. (Also a need, even if they re sign Cotch, due to his age).

  2. I’ll believe it when I see it. The photos of him and Moye with Ben do nothing for me. Not one bit. I felt they should have gone with a different WR in the draft but as usual there trying to find another Mike Wallace well guess what I highly doubt he will become that type of guy or even close to it. Patterson of the Vols taken by the Vikings was called a raw WR and look at how the Vikings used him. My question is when Wheaton wasn’t hurt why did they decide against utilizing him at all regardless of what Cotchery was doing and what Sanders wasn’t doing? I go back to the Miami game and there was a 4th down situation where it was obvious they were going to fake punt pass. If you look at where Wheaton was lined up there was no CB or S or ST that was going to stop him. Instead of going through with the fake punt they decide to check out of it and go with a regular punt. So I want somebody to tell me if the Steelers didn’t want use Wheaton in other situations beyond WR then why even give him a chance at being the NO.2 WR when they clearly need a Big Physical WR. How can you have someone like that on your team and make him your NO.3 WR when he is better served as the guy opposite of AB. The way I see it you resign Cotchery and then draft a Big WR in the 1st round and make Wheaton beat Jericho for the 3 spot and then your 1st round pick for the No.2 spot.

  3. Yes we will. My point was this: If they wanted to use Wheaton in other ways than just WR when he was healthy they should have done so. Look at there KR game. Felix Jones was your best option. If Wheaton has this so called speed then use it when it came to KR’s. Even the PR game he could have been useful and that’s not a knock on AB it’s just a observation.

  4. If Evans is there then take him. The Steelers feel that Wheaton is another version of Wallace in that he is quick and the speed to burn defenders just like Wallace. It’s easy to say give him another year but when I hear the coach say “well he doesn’t understand that playbook and that’s why he is not on the field” then why even dress the guy to begin with. He can work out with Ben all he wants it proves nothing. There just running routes not executing the playbook. Any QB can take his WR’s and workout during the offseason it does nothing for me that there doing this. If Wheaton wants to prove something do it in this order: camp, 2 pre-season, 3.regular season if he does that then I’ll back off him but until proven otherwise I reserve the right to question why he is with this team. Everybody to some degree wants Defense in the 1st round and I see no point to it. Until either that rookie or the fans or Tomlin can convince LeBeau that playing rookies from the start is a smart move then why does anybody advocate Defense in the 1st round. I keep saying that they need to fix the D but wait until the 2nd round to start filling those huge holes. I used to trust Colbert when it came to the draft cause he could do no wrong but now he is making more mistakes than finding answers in the draft. You can name any defensive prospect you want out of this draft and you fully well know they won’t start there rookie or for that matter see much playing time so why anybody would want that as the Steelers 1st round pick is beyond me. Not hatin just sayin.

    • Not one coach has said that Wheaton didn’t understand the playbook. And you say in every post everyone wants D in the first round… Who are you talking about? Both writers here have said repeatedly we’re on board with offense 1st rnd.

      Hines Ward (drafted in the same rnd as Wheaton) had 15 catches for 246 yards as a rookie.
      Antonio Brown had 16 catches for 167 yards.
      Plaxico Burress (a top 10 pick!!) had 22 catches for 273 yards


  5. Sorry for the confusion steelbydesign, I was responding to Vittorios response, when I posed the question: “If BOTH Watkins & Evans are there @ 15, who would you pick?” he chose Evans.

    • Sorry.

      I would like to get a big body in there somewhere… So It’s Evans or Benjamin over Lee for me, even though I feel like Lee could come in and be successful quickly, and be the safer pick.

      That being said, Watkins skill level is so much higher than those other guys, it’s not even close. The reason I take the two bigger guys over Lee is that they skill level is close… In the case of Watkins, it’s not close.

  6. It’s not you guys I’m mad at, it’s guys like McShay and Kiper and other mock draft websites such as bleacher report or behind the steel curtain saying go with someone like Nix or Mosley or Gilbert or Denard and for the life of me I can’t understand that. They all know that none of those guys will start there rookie year. Yes they need a fat man at NT and not a fat a**. These people seem to have this idea that LeBeau will all of a sudden change his mind on playing rookies. Well he won’t and to anyone who thinks he should then best of luck to ya in your hope to convince him otherwise. I said if Evans is there take him but if somehow Watkins falls to 15 then by all means take him. Lee is another guy I like very much and would have no problem. Mike Tomlin told a local writer for the trib that the reason why Wheaton didn’t see the filed was because he didn’t understand the playbook. That writers name was Joe Starkey. He asked coach Tomlin during the season why is Wheaton not on the filed and that response was the one I have said before and in this comment as well. You know some people think that what Seattle did was great, well if your paying one S 2.5 million and the rest of the secondary less than a Million for the year then yeah it was great but watch what happens when you have pay those DB’s and Safeties big money and then try to say what Seattle is doing is great. I’m of the belief that WR is the best 1st round option.

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