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Is Markus Wheaton A Breakout Player In 2014?

By Mike Drakulich

When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Markus Wheaton with the 79th overall pick in the 3rd Round of the 2013 NFL Draft, they expected big things out of the speedy receiver out of Oregon State.

While with the Beavers, Wheaton nabbed 227 receptions for 2,994 yards and 16 touchdowns.

In his first year, Wheaton battled injuries and was a slight disappointment with only 6 catches for 64 yards the entire season.

But redemption is forthcoming.

Now healthy and very motivated, Wheaton is looking to have a breakout season with one of the best in Ben Roethlisberger set to run the offense the way Ben likes it, with a hurry up, K-Gun mentality.

The Steelers are well stocked at receiver, with Pro Bowler Antonio Brown as Ben’s primary target. Veteran’s Lance Moore and Derrius Heyward-Bey joined the team via Free Agency. Clemson’s Martavis Bryant was drafted in the 4th Round, and 2013’s 6th Rd pick Justin Brown round out the group.

As of now, it’s looking as if Wheaton is positioning himself in the top 3 along with Antonio Brown and Lance Moore.

With the offensive line healthy under the tutelage of Hall of Famer Mike Munchak as O-line Coach, Ben Roethlisberger being, well, Big Ben, Tight End Heath Miller finally at 100%, and a nasty trio of running backs in Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, and rookie burner Dri Archer, the Steelers are primed to have a huge offensive year.

Wheaton is looking to be a big part of it. With most of the attention being applied to shut down Antonio Brown every week, Wheaton and Moore should thrive in this environment, especially out of the slot. If Pittsburgh’s offense runs the way Big Ben envisions it, expect to see the ball spread out to multiple players. With Roethlisberger’s play extending ability, he will find the open guy in the field the majority of the time, and someone with the elusiveness and speed of Wheaton should benefit greatly from it.

Still, it is only July, and Training Camp is closing in. There are a lot of wolves trying to eat away at a small carcass in the Steeler’s WR family. Training Camp, four Preseason games, and durability will be tested until week 1 vs Cleveland.

If Wheaton continues to progress and grow–and stays healthy, you can expect to see around a minimum of 60-65 catches and around 5-6 TD’s. That’s certainly not eye-popping fantasy stats, but with so many versatile players in Pittsburgh’s deck, it will be hard pressed to see anyone but Antonio Brown with monster numbers, as Brown will be Roethlisberger’s main target.

It should be a fun year watching the Steelers offense.

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Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.

There's nowhere on earth that is more dedicated to its sports teams like Western Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. The passion and pride of Pittsburgh's fan base is second to no one. From the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA football and basketball, to W.P.I.A.L. high school sports, "The City of Champions" has it all!

As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides the best opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania.

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