With the 2012 NFL season in the books, and the scouting combine in the rearview miror, it's time to take a closer look at the 50 players we think will be the biggest difference-makers at the next level from this draft class. To that end, we're happy to start this year's Shutdown 50 scouting reports (Hint: There may actually be more than 50). You can read last year's group here. The final 50 players listed were chosen and ranked based on game tape, combine results, overall positional value, and attributes and liabilities on and off the field.
50. Markus Wheaton, Oregon State WR
We begin this year's group with Oregon State receiver Markus Wheaton. In Mike Reilly's high-falutin' offense (and without a top-tier quarterback throwing him passes), Wheaton made his name as one of the most productive college receivers at any level in the last two seasons. After a 2011 campaign in which he caught 73 balls for 986 yards and only one touchdown (shades of Keyshawn Johnson!), Wheaton blew it up in 2012, getting a little closer to the goal line and grabbing 91 balls for 1,244 yards and 11 scores.
[More Shutdown 50: Georgia's John Jenkins is a rare -- and huge -- athlete]
After a very impressive week at the Senior Bowl (ask Desmond Trufant about that), Wheaton started to establish himself as the kind of player who could possibly find his way to "1A" status on an NFL team. The question is, in what systems can a route-savvy, 5-foot-11, 190-pound player with a good sense of the game take it over the top?