Oregon State lost its season opener in front of a home crowd, in overtime, to FCS Sacramento State; and that pretty much set the tone for their entire season. They started out 0-4 and stumbled to 3-9 season. It was the Beavers’ worst record since finishing 2-9 in 1996. The team looks to turn things around this year. Sophomore Sean Mannion, a former four-star recruit, returns to play quarterback after showing promise as a redshirt freshman. The problem is, he doesn’t appear to have a lot of help. Here’s a look at Oregon State’s top draft eligible players. Underclassmen are designated with an asterisk…
Jordan Poyer CB 6’0 190 – Poyer was a lightly regarded recruit out of high school, yet still managed to get on the field for all 13 games as a freshman in 2009. As a sophomore he served as the team’s primary kick return man and saw increased action on defense. Late that season, in a stunning win over USC, he returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown. Last season, Poyer was a second team All-Big 10 cornerback who intercepted four passes (including on he returned for a touchdown against BYU) and broke up 12 others. While continuing his return duties on special teams, Poyer took a punt 85 yards to the house in a loss to UCLA. Now, entering his senior season, Poyer has gone from recruiting afterthought to potential early round draft pick. He has good size and is aggressive in coverage. He’s a sure tackler with added value on special teams. Poyer is best suited for zone coverage, but he has good speed and a knack for getting himself in position to make plays. Poyer was arrested back in May after a disturbance outside of a nightclub, but the issue does not appear to be serious. If he can continue the progression he’s shown as a defender since arriving in Corvallis, and prove that his legal run-in was a minor misunderstanding, Poyer could come off the board early on Day Two of the draft.
Markus Wheaton WR 6’1 182 – After a nondescript freshman season, Wheaton hauled in 55 passes for 675 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore. Then last year he led the Beavers with 73 catches and 986 yards, yet he found the end zone just a single time. Wheaton is a burner with terrific deep speed. His ability to elude tacklers allow Oregon State coaches to mix in designed runs to get Wheaton the ball in space. In his career he’s carried the ball for 489 yards and three touchdowns while averaging nearly eight yards per carry. Wheaton has a thin frame, so he might have trouble getting off the line against bigger cornerbacks. But he’s reportedly been working hard to add strength. Wheaton is ready to embrace a leadership role with the team and is expecting a big year. With a strong season he could work his way into the third or fourth round range of the draft.
Also keep and eye on: Sean Mannion* QB 6’5 215