Markus Wheaton NFL Stats
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Markus Wheaton NFL Game Log
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- 2018 Offensive Snaps:
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(Compared to other WRs)
Free Agent Team Injury Report
A change of scenery is probably a good thing in Wheaton's case, even with the significant downgrade in offensive environments. A shoulder injury derailed Wheaton's 2016 campaign after only three games, but he was quietly productive the prior year with 749 yards on 17.0 YPC and 9.5 YPT -- huge per-play numbers. At 5-11, 189, with 4.45 speed, Wheaton is small, quick and fast enough to make plays downfield -- five catches for 40-plus yards in 2015. The problem for Wheaton in Pittsburgh was the Steelers' deep stable of pass catchers. In Chicago, Wheaton will be catching passes from some combination of Mike Glennon and Mitchell Trubisky, but the depth chart is more wide open, with only oft-injured Kevin White ahead of him, as he'll compete with a number of different players for a potentially-prominent role in the offense.
Once an afterthought in an offense with Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown, Wheaton is relevant again for two reasons: (1) he was a significant part of the offense over the season's final six weeks, including a nine-catch, 201-yard game in Week 12; and (2) Bryant is suspended for the entire season. In fact, Wheaton had 50 or more yards in five of the last six games and scored in four. Wheaton was also highly efficient, averaging 17.0 YPC (3rd among 70-target WR) and 9.5 YPT (9th). He also had a whopping five catches of 40-plus yards – the same as Julio Jones, on 124 fewer targets. At 5-11, 189, with 4.45 speed, Wheaton's essentially a poor man's Brown, relying on speed and quickness to get free for big plays. Wheaton even saw a fair amount of red-zone work – 15 of his 79 targets were in that area. That said, Antonio Brown is a target monster, seeing 374 the last two years, and new arrival Ladarius Green should also see a good deal of red-zone work. But as the clear No. 2 wideout on an elite passing team, Wheaton is in a good spot to build on last year's strong finish.
Wheaton held his own last year as a complementary piece in the Steelers' attack, but it was hard for him to measure up to his teammates, superstar Antonio Brown and size/speed freak Martavis Bryant. Moreover, tight end Heath Miller will see his share of looks, as will tailback Le'Veon Bell (83 catches) once he returns from a two-game suspension. Nonetheless, the Steelers had the second-most passing yards (4,825) in the league last year and finished third in YPA (8.2), so there's a lot to go around. Wheaton likely will work out of the slot and be a decent source of receptions, but at 5-11, 182, he's unlikely to find much red-zone work (only seven targets there last season), Wheaton is fast (4.45 40), shifty and athletic, but profiles as mostly a possession receiver on this team. All that said, with news that Bryant is facing a four-game suspension to start the season, Wheaton figures to see added opportunities in the Steelers' offense early.
After an injury-plagued rookie year during which he caught just six balls, Wheaton finds himself as the favorite to enter 2014 with a starting job. At 5-11, 182 and with 4.45 speed and excellent quickness, Wheaton profiles a lot like Pittsburgh No. 1 Antonio Brown. In the era of the big receiver, the Steelers prefer them small for some reason, and this goes back to Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and even Santonio Holmes. For that reason, Wheaton’s similarity to Brown is less likely to make him redundant in Pittsburgh. Newly signed Lance Moore (another small receiver) is expected to man the slot, but Wheaton should see his share of targets from Ben Roethlisberger.
There's a lot of talk about Tavon Austin and DeAndre Hopkins, but it's possible Wheaton stepped into the best situation in Year 1.
While Emmanuel Sanders is the favorite to start opposite Antonio Brown, that's not set in stone, and the Steelers often involve a third receiver, going back to the days when Nate Washington and Mike Wallace emerged in that role.
At 5-11, 187 and with good speed, Wheaton is very much like Brown and Sanders – small, quick, shifty, hard to keep up with in open space. Moreover, Ben Roethlisberger often keeps plays alive with his scrambling, so there are usually a few big gains to be had even when a receiver isn't open initially.