Replacing A Championship Roster – Markus Wheaton Looking To Repeat Sophomore Success

The Pittsburgh Steelers have experienced an uncommon amount of roster turnover over the last few seasons, which just so happened to coincide with consecutive years without a postseason berth.

As a result, we’re finding an unusual amount of new faces in the starting lineup compared just to last season, when the season before already introduced several new starters.

The rapid turnover in successive seasons certainly has much to do with the organization’s personnel management over the previous years. Time, as always, came out the victor as they felt the ramifications of trying to hold together a championship roster that could no longer perform like one.

Considering  how different the projected starting lineup for the start of the 2014 season is from just two seasons ago, I think it would be interesting to revisit the roster from the 2010 season—the last time the Steelers competed for a championship—to see how different this new team truly is.

We will continue with the offensive line, which has seen about as much change as any position over the past few years.

The last time the Steelers were in the Super Bowl, they had a second-year wide receiver starting opposite their veteran. Mike Wallace was still fairly raw, but was able to get a good amount of experience during his rookie season.

Markus Wheaton is just the opposite. He may be the most polished receiver they’ve drafted coming out of college recently, yet his playing time was minimal during his first season, and he was limited to just six catches.

What Wallace had going him, however, was pure speed. And that showed time and again that year, as he recorded 10 receptions of at least 40 yards, six of which ended up in the end zone. He also had an all-around great year, recording over 1250 receiving yards and scoring 10 touchdowns.

There’s no mistaking the success that Wallace had during his tenure with the Steelers. During his three years as a starter, he averaged more than eight touchdowns a season and over 1000 receiving yards, before his cashed in during free agency.

I think anybody would sign up for 1000 yards and eight touchdowns from Wheaton per season right now.

And it’s certainly not impossible. But there are just so many things that we don’t yet know about the second-year wide receiver that it’s hard to answer any meaningful questions about him yet.

The Steelers very rarely put a player with such little experience that lacks top-end pedigree into the starting lineup, so it will be interesting to see how he develops this year, because the offense will only develop as far as he is able to. Can he play to a championship level like the last Steelers receiver to start in his second season?

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