The Pittsburgh Steelers have five of their nine draft picks under contract after signing third-round pick wide receiver Markus Wheaton, fifth-round pick cornerback Terry Hawthorne and sixth-round pick wide receiver Justin Brown. Financial terms of the four-year deals were not disclosed.
The Steelers needed a speed receiver to take the roster spot of departed Mike Wallace. Wheaton ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds at the combine but the Steelers consider him much faster, quicker. He holds the Beavers' record with 227 career receptions. Emmanuel Sanders will likely leave as a free agent in 2014, so the Steelers envision Wheaton as a long-term starter.
Brown caught 146 passes for 1,926 yards and eight touchdowns in 49 career games at the University of Oklahoma.
Hawthorne was oft-injured at Illinois, including a concussion issue, and that likely dropped him in the draft. He's a playmaker who joins a defense that had trouble making them the past two years.
Hawthorne has good size and speed, and the Steelers think he also could play safety.