Markus Wheaton remains out of Steelers OTAs

Jonathan Ferrey

The NFL-mandated rule of not allowing draft picks to participate in anything outside of rookie minicamp before their college class's graduation prevents Wheaton from attending OTAs.

One of the more intriguing storylines for the remainder of this offseason will be determining what exactly the Steelers have in their third round pick, wide receiver Markus Wheaton.

The team won't be able to learn much more other than what they've already seen, thanks to an NFL rule that prohibits players from schools that are in session to participate in team activities until graduation.

It's a bogus rule, rooted deeply in antiquated means, but that's beside the point.

Wheaton could legitimately put a veteran receiver out of work - either Jerricho Cotchery or Plaxico Burress. Cotchery has one year left on his contract, and Burress signed a one-year deal this offseason.

The veterans will need to show they belong this season, especially considering the Steelers only kept four wide receivers on last year's team. While it's certainly not an assurance they will follow the same policy, it does show precedent they aren't afraid to keep an extra player at another position at the detriment of depth at wide receiver.

The injury to tight end Heath Miller, though, may convince them to keep five receivers - at least to start.

Wheaton will miss the team's minicamp June 11-13 as well, as Oregon State graduates Saturday, June 15.


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