Markus Wheaton to Steelers: How Wide Receiver Fits with Pittsburgh

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Markus Wheaton to Steelers: How Wide Receiver Fits with Pittsburgh
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Mike Wallace is no easy man to replace. The fastest man in football left the Steel City for a big contract in Miami, leaving the Steelers with a void at wide receiver. 

With the 79th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh made an attempt to rectify that situation by adding Oregon State's all-time leader in receptions, Markus Wheaton

 

Role

Wheaton is a very good fit for what the Steelers want to do offensively under Todd Haley. His game is very similar to that of current Pittsburgh receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. He'll catch the ball across the middle and can make guys miss in space. 

But Wheaton can add some of the deep speed back to the Steelers' offense. 

Wheaton routinely dabbled in track and field while at Oregon State and those teams don't take guys who can't run. His deep speed won't compete with that of Wallace, but it's probably better than anything the Steelers currently have on the roster. 

There's going to be serious contention for slot receiver roles this season in Pittsburgh as Brown, Sanders and Wheaton all fit that role. It'll be interesting to see how the Steelers decide to divvy up that role. 

 

Scheme Fit

Schematically, Markus Wheaton makes a lot of sense for the Steelers. 

Under Todd Haley, Pittsburgh has really converted their offense to that of the short, quick passing attack and letting the receivers make people miss in space. Brown and Sanders have exceeded at these roles. 

At Oregon State, Wheaton did just the same thing. Although he's got the ability to beat defenders down the field, Wheaton is at his best beating defenders in open space with underneath, crossing routes. 

Ben Roethlisberger is going to love this guy. Wheaton can beat the defenders with his elite quickness and is sure-handed. He's a good fit in Pittsburgh. 

 

Early Projections

Losing Wallace didn't deplete the Steelers receiving corps as much as most people think. Pittsburgh still has Plaxico Burress and Jerricho Cotchery who, although aren't the receivers they were four years ago, are still effective. 

Wheaton, to me, is more of a pick for 2014. 

Pittsburgh paid to keep Emmanuel Sanders in the city for one more year, but it's going to take a big contract to keep him here in the future. Wheaton is a very nice replacement for Sanders and could steal some snaps from him in 2013. 

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

I wouldn't expect a whole lot of Wheaton in 2013. He still has to come in and learn the offense, get a report going with Roethlisberger and gain the trust of his coaches. He's a good character guy so I don't expect this to be an issue, but there's still going to be a learning curve. 

Wheaton could go anywhere from 300-500 yards receiving this season. That's not half bad when you think about it. 

 

Grades

In the Grades/Analysis piece, I gave the Steelers a B+ for taking Wheaton at No. 79 and I think that's pretty fair.

Pittsburgh certainly got good value for a guy like Wheaton who could have easily been a second round pick. He's a good fit for the offensive system and is a faster clone of Antonio Brown.

The only issue I have with this pick is that it's more of the same at receiver. A guy with more size may have been nice, but still a very good pick by the Steelers.  

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