Markus Wheaton hasn't practiced a down yet with all of his new Steelers teammates. The Oregon State wide receiver won't until training camp because NFL rules prohibit a college player from taking part in drills while his school remains in session.
According to NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah, Wheaton is a player who will be worth watching once he arrives in Latrobe because he could be one of the steals of the NFL Draft.
While Wheaton is mostly being called the logical replacement for Mike Wallace as the Steelers' primary speed receiver, Jeremiah thinks he is much more than that.
“He fits them well,” Jeremiah said.
He even dares to drop the name Hines Ward.
Jeremiah believes the 6-foot-1, 182-pound Wheaton soon will be as despised in Baltimore, Cincinnati and Cleveland as he will be liked in Pittsburgh, where players with an edge, attitude and get-in-somebody's-face mentality are loved — at least if they play for the home team.
“He fits the new mold they've got there, guys who can win one-on-ones with quickness, but he's also got big-play ability with top speed and feisty toughness,” Jeremiah said.
“He's got the kind of toughness Hines Ward had when he played against Baltimore; the feistiness he brought to that offense was a huge asset. This kid is not as big as Hines (6-0, 205), but he's going to bring some of that competitiveness and feistiness.”
Pretty high praise for a player who has yet to go against Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu or Ryan Clark in practice.
“I think he's perfect there,” Jeremiah said. “You can't just label him as a possession guy. You can't just label him as just a vertical guy. He can't do all things at an elite level, but he's capable of doing everything. He's a huge chess piece (for Ben Roethlisberger) to have.”
Jeremiah, a former scout for the Ravens and Eagles, is one of the more thoughtful and less bombastic of many national analytical voices.