2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: West Virginia WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton

From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents Today, I’ll be profiling West Virginia WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton.

#0 Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR, West Virginia (R-Junior) – 6040, 221lb

Shrine Bowl/Combine Invite


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Bryce Ford-Wheaton 6’4, 221lb 9 3/8” 33 1/2” N/A
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
4.38 1.54 4.15 6.97
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press
10’9” 41.5

The Good

— Is a height/weight/speed specimen at the position
— Has a great frame with long limbs and a thick, athletic build
— Superior athlete when it comes to straight-line speed, burst, and explosiveness
— Can work vertically down the field as a deep threat
— Will get on top of corners in they’re not careful
— Hand fights with DBs to get separation when working vertical
— Gets the better of DBs with double moves as well and stutters-and-go
— Does a good job adjusting back to the football and making back-shoulder catches
— Will make contested catches in tight coverage
— Elevates to make acrobatic grabs with defenders all over him
— Has the length and leaping ability to make catches outside of his frame
— Good spatial awareness along the sidelines and in the end zone to come down in-bounds
— Accelerates quickly with the ball in his hands, being dangerous in the screen game
— Can move the chains as a possession receiver over the middle
— Willing blocker that aggressively attacks the opposition
— Profiles as an ideal gunner on special-teams units

The Bad

— Had minimal production in college despite immense physical traits
— Doesn’t consistently stack corners vertically
— Can lose balance and be thrown off his route
— Needs to do better at challenging DBs’ cushion and working through their shoulders to separate down the field given his speed
— Makes a fair number of contested catches due to lack of separation
— Several bad drops litter his tape due to lack of concentration
— Can be crisper as a route runner on short and intermediate throws
— Ran a limited route tree at WVU
— Can stay engaged on his blocks longer, keeping balance when engaged


— Redshirt Junior Prospect from Fuquay-Varina, N.C.
— Age 23
— Grandfather Garrett Ford Sr. and uncle, Garrett Ford Jr. were standout running backs at WVU
— Three-star ranking by ESPN, rivals and 247Sports; played WR and DB, and ran track for Holly Springs High School
— Played in 46 career games, including 32 starts, with three 100-yard receiving games
— Redshirted his first year on campus in 2018
— Started two of 11 games in 2019 and caught 12 passes for 201 yards (16.8 YPR) and two TDs
— Started all nine contests in 2020 and caught 27 passes for 416 yards (15.4 YPR) and three TDs
— Started nine of 12 games in 2021 and notched 42 receptions for 575 yards (13.7 YPR) and three TDs
— Started all 12 games in 2022 and caught 62 passes for 675 yards (10.9 YPR) and seven TDs
— Won the Iron Mountaineer Award in 2020
— Graduated in December 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in sport management; Honor-roll student
— Honorable mention All-Big 12 (2021-22)

Tape Breakdown

Bryce Ford-Wheaton turned heads at the Shrine Bowl thanks to his impressive athletic profile, but that’s nothing new for the 6’4, 221-lb freak of nature. Ford-Wheaton is a HWS specimen with impressive size, length, speed, and explosiveness. He possesses the frame and leaping ability to make acrobatic catches above the rim, coming down with some difficult catches in contested coverage.

Ford-Wheaton thrived as the Mountaineers big-play threat down the field with speed as well as in the red zone. He has the body control to contort in the air with defenders on him to shield DBs away from the football. Watch this three-play sequence against Pitt in which Ford-Wheaton makes two TD grabs on back shoulder fades in tight coverage and comes down with a prayer ball in the middle of the field while surrounded by defenders.

Ford-Wheaton isn’t afraid of dirty work over the middle of the field as a possession receiver, having the frame and size to take a whipping to move the chains when he knows he’s going to get hit. Watch this play Ford-Wheaton makes over the middle of the field on a crossing route. Making the catch with one defender on his back while the linebacker shoots himself into Ford-Wheaton and picks up the targeting call, Ford-Wheaton manages to hold onto the ball for the first down.

While Ford-Wheaton can win with his size and strength, he also wins downfield with his speed and savvy. He likes to use double moves and stutters-and-go to get the better of DBs, giving him separation as he works vertically. We see Ford-Wheaton utilize a double move on this reception against Iowa State, hitting the out-and-up along the sideline to get a step on the CB. He makes the leaping catch as the safety comes over attempting to break up the pass.

Given his speed (4.38 40) and explosiveness, West Virginia was wise to get Ford-Wheaton the ball close to the LOS and give him room to run after the catch. He was used on plenty of screens, like this play against Kansas. Catching the short pass near the LOS, he manages to shake a couple of tackles as he works to get into open space where he takes the short screen to the house.

Given his size and strength, Ford-Wheaton aggressively gets after it as a blocker, sizing up his competition and running his feet on contact. We see that on this block against the Panthers, playing with a solid base and hands inside the defender’s chest. He needs to work on staying engaged on blocks as the defender gets off on this rep, but the desire and capability is there.

While Ford-Wheaton is a superb athlete, his production at WVU doesn’t reflect that. He doesn’t consistently stack DBs vertically, struggling to work through contact and get a step on the defender as he tries to work vertical. The Pitt DB may get a hand on Wheaton here, but Wheaton loses his balance and fails to knock down the DB’s arm as he works through his outside shoulder, stumbling just a tad. That results in the incompletion on the potential splash play.

Another problem is that Ford-Wheaton isn’t the most natural catcher of the football. He likes to cradle passes into his torso instead of catching away from his frame, when he has the choice, and suffers from focus drops on occasion. Here is a three-play sequence against Pitt in which Wheaton misses three potential passes as they slip through his fingers, the third one being a blatant drop that goes through his hands, which the defense takes back to the house.



Bryce Ford-Wheaton is your classic physical specimen WR that has the frame and play style to win jump-ball opportunities as well as stretch the field vertically. He has shown he can work over the middle of the field as a possession receiver and can excel after the catch with the ball in his hands. He has immense potential and upside but needs to cut down on drops and play with better technique to consistently stack CBs and play to his timed speed to maximize everything he brings to the table.

When I started watching Ford-Wheaton, Chris Conley immediately came to mind as another physically gifted WR that has a similar size and athletic profile to Wheaton (6’2, 213lb, 33 3/4” arm, 4.35 40, 45” vert). Conley was drafted in the third round out of Georgia after never going over 700 receiving yards in a season, just like Wheaton. Each possessed the same jump ball, deep-threat skill set while needing to better stack defenders and become a more consistent route runner.

Conley has carved out a nice career as a WR3 in the league and I see Ford-Wheaton be able to do the same thing. He will likely get drafted somewhere in the middle rounds after a stellar Combine boosted his draft stock, just like with Conley in 2015. He can come in right away and contributed on special teams as a gunner while getting onto the field in spread looks as a red zone/deep threat. The Steelers have taken shots on physical freak receivers like Martavis Bryant and Sammie Coats in the past. Wheaton’s athletic profile, upside, and character make him a possible target for Pittsburgh in the middle rounds of the draft.

Projection: Day Three
Depot Draft Grade: 7.6 – Potential Starter/Good Backup (3rd Round)
Games Watched: at Pitt (2022), vs Kansas (2022), vs Iowa State (2021)

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