Markus Wheaton and Top Wideout Making Noise at the Senior Bowl

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIJanuary 25, 2013

CORVALLIS, OR - DECEMBER 01: Wide receiver Markus Wheaton #2 of the Oregon State Beavers smiles as he looks up at the scoreboard late in the fourth quarter of the game against the Nicholls State Colonels on December 1, 2012 at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon. Oregon State won the game 77-3. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Plenty of buzz is flying around this year's Senior Bowl, but no position seems to garner as much noise as the wide receivers.

This year's NFL draft is overflowing with talent, mainly on the defensive side of the ball. High-upside offensive players seem a rarity, and that's no different at wideout.

But there's still talent at the position, and right now it's being showcased in Mobile.


Markus Wheaton, Oregon State

Markus Wheaton came into the Senior Bowl as one of the more underrated WR prospects.

Wheaton spent his first two years at OSU a relative unknown. He started to make noise his junior year but failed to eclipse 1,000 yards—and he had just one touchdown to his name that season.

But he came alive in his senior year, leading the Beavers in receptions, receiving yards (1,244), touchdowns (13) and all-purpose yards.

If the stats weren't enough to get Wheaton's stock rising, his performance in Mobile has been.

The NFL's Bucky Brooks called Wheaton "the most impressive receiver at the Senior Bowl," while Rob Rang reports that the speedy receiver is being compared to Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Wallace.

Wheaton's big matchups in practice have come against Washington corner Desmond Trufant, allowing both players to show off their physicality.

The former Beaver has average size (6'1", 182 pounds) but is fearless when it comes to making catches in traffic and taking hits.

His speed is enough to carry him to the next level and when combined with his other tools, he could become a solid NFL receiver.


Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech

While Markus Wheaton makes a name for himself in the north, Louisiana Tech receiver Quinton Patton rules the south.

The Bulldogs featured the FBS' third-best passing attack this season, averaging 350.8 yards a game.

Patton was a huge part of that figure, registering 104 catches for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns. His best game came in a near-upset over Texas A&M, when Patton had 233 yards and four touchdowns.

Patton has been tremendous in practice at Mobile, showing off his great hands and focus.

He's already receiving big looks from the Green Bay Packers, and it's possible that he could wiggle his way into the first round if he continues to come up big.


Denard Robinson, Michigan

Despite the positive buzz generated by Wheaton and Patton, things haven't been going well for everyone in Mobile.

Denard Robinson, the great experiment, continues to struggle at the Senior Bowl practices.

The former Wolverines quarterback was enjoying a strong senior season before an elbow injury forced him out from behind center.

Used as a tailback in the final games of 2012, Robinson racked up 1,266 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. It marked his third consecutive 1,000-yards rushing season.

While Robinson is a tremendous athlete, his 6'0", 197-pound frame isn't a good long-term fit at running back. So Robinson chose to switch to wideout.

Shoelace has the pure speed and explosiveness to make it as a wide receiver, but he's still learning and has been criticized for his inability to run routes and play physical on the release.

In fact, he's so inexperienced that some have said Robinson looks "slow."

The possibility of a big transition is still there for Robinson, but right now he's struggling. Until that changes, his draft stock remains in flux.