Every draft season I find myself ‘crushing’ on a draft prospect. The 2012 NFL Draft saw my crush fall on Mychal Kendricks, Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. The 2011 NFL Draft my man crushes fell to Stefan Wisniewski and J.J. Watt. It’s official, I have my first ‘draft crush’ of the 2013 NFL Draft: Markus Wheaton.
Wheaton checked in at Mobile at 5011, 183 pounds with 8 1/2″ hands. Not exactly elite measurables at the wide receiver position. Far from it. Wheaton is prone to round off a route and isn’t a great high pointer of the football. He will, on an occasion, put the ball on the ground. Those are the downsides with Wheaton’s game, now that those are past us, let’s look at what makes this kid special.
The NFL game is quickly becoming a mirror image of the college game. Speed kills. As we see in the Super Bowl, both teams feature some of the best athletes at their positions, from Torrey Smith and Haloti Ngata to Colin Kaepernick and Aldon Smith, it’s a game won by schemes utilizing their athletic talents. Wheaton has athletic talent in spades. It was Wheaton that outran the “Black Mamba” De’Anthony Thomas of Oregon in the 100 meter Oregon Twilight meet. Clocking a time of 10.58 to Thomas’ 10.65 gives you an idea of Wheaton’s blazing speed.
For the obvious reasons Wheaton’s game has been compared to that of Mike Wallace of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Wheaton and Wallace share similar abilities to stretch the field vertically with world class speed. That’s where the similarities end for me between the two prospects coming out of college. Wheaton is a much more polished receiver than Wallace was coming out of Ole Miss.
We are going to look at three areas that put Wheaton into a category unto himself in this draft and why he should be considered a first round prospect at the end of the day.
EYE TRACKING/SPATIAL AWARENESS
This first screen grab is a two part series. First we will show you the latter portions of the play with Wheaton’s ability to track the ball with his eyes while maintaining his speed and spatial awareness. The second portion of this screenshot will be during the speed section of the film study.