Photo of Terrence Wheatley
Grade
?
  • 4.37 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 36.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 128.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6.74 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 11.58 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 5'9" Height
  • 178LBS. Weight

Overview

One of the more unheralded players in college football, Wheatley made professional scouts take notice of his ability as a shutdown cornerback. After sitting out the 2005 season following surgery to repair a broken wrist, Wheatley more than made up for lost time, establishing himself as the premier man-coverage cornerback in an extremely talented conference.

One of the fastest players in college football, Wheatley's sudden burst and running stride has also brought him success as a kickoff returner. His 937 yards on kickoff returns rank fifth on the school's all-time record list and his 506 yards on those returns in 2007 marked the eighth time in Colorado annals that a player amassed more than 500 yards on kickoff returns in a season, and he still has six games in his final campaign to improve those totals.

One defense, he ranks tied for sixth in Colorado history with eleven interceptions. He returned two of those pass thefts for touchdowns, one short of the school career-record of three by Victor Scott (1980-83). He has also batted away 27 other passes thrown in his area, giving him 38 passes defended over 37 games.

"When the pro scouts come by, I just jump on the table for Terrence Wheatley," said Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins. "I think he is a very solid individual, he is a hard worker, he is a smart guy, he is dependable, he is very, very consistent and he is a special talent. I could see that guy, if he continues, being an All-American type player. It is awesome to have him in the return game, too, because we know how fast he is and now that his wrist is healed up and it's not as big a problem as it was last year, he can do some great things there. But he is a great kid, he really is."

At Plano East High School, Wheatley earned All-State honorable mention, Dallas Morning News All-Area first-team honors as a cornerback and receiver and was named to the All-District 9-5A first-team. He was rated the 56th-best cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com and also garnered the Plano Star Collin County Most Valuable Player accolades as a senior. As a junior, he received All-District second-team recognition as a receiver and first-team accolades as a kickoff returner.

During his final campaign, Wheatley recorded 82 tackles (three for loss), along with five interceptions, nine pass deflections, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. On offense, he caught 25 passes for 410 yards and three touchdowns; he averaged 35 yards per kickoff return and 15 yards per punt return. The team finished 8-4 that season, winning the district title, but lost in the second round of the playoffs.

As a junior, he totaled 70 tackles (four for loss), with six interceptions, 18 pass breakups, three forced fumbles and three recovered fumbles. He played running back sparingly, rushing 23 times for 200 yards, and added 11 catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He also averaged 25 yards per kickoff return and eight yards on punt returns. That year, he guided the squad to an 8-3 record, winning the district championship before losing in the first round of the playoffs.

Wheatley added three letters in track, setting school records in the triple-jump (50-8), long jump (24-61/2) and 100 meters (10.15). He was the Texas Relay champion in the triple jump (48-5) his junior year, and he won district championships in the 100, long jump and triple-jump. He also was the district champion in the triple-jump as a sophomore.

Wheatley enrolled at Colorado in 2003, seeing action in 12 games on special teams and in six contests on defense. He started vs. Baylor and Kansas State at right cornerback, coming up with 30 tacklers (22 solo) and five pass deflections. He also gained 57 yards (29.5-yard average) on a pair of kickoff returns. His first start against Baylor was historical, as he joined Sammy Joseph at cornerback, marking the first time in CU history that a pair of freshmen started at the same position in the same game. On special teams, he ranked fifth on the squad with seven points.

He underwent right wrist surgery during the offseason and, even though he appeared in 13 2004 games, he did not win a starting job until the last five contests, taking over at right cornerback. Wheatley delivered 37 tackles (31 solo) with three pass deflections and four interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. He also gained 357 yards on 16 kickoff returns (22.3-yard average). On kick-coverage units, he was credited with six points.

Several additional surgeries on his right wrist forced the NCAA to grant Wheatley a medical hardship for the 2005 season. He returned to action in 2006, earning first-team All-Big Twelve Conference honors from the league's coaches. He started all 12 games at right cornerback, seeing more playing time (776 plays) than any other defender on the team. He produced 58 tackles (43 solo) with 1 1/2 sacks, 4 1/2 stops for losses and four pressures. He caused a fumble, recovered two others and led the team with 11 pass breakups. He also had five interceptions.

In 2007, Wheatley garnered preseason All-American second-team (Scout.com, The NFL Draft Report) honors. He was on the Jim Thorpe Award (nation's top defensive back) Watch List and also received All-Big Twelve first-team preseason accolades. He shifted to the demanding left cornerback position, making 17 tackles (14 solo) with eight pass deflections and two interceptions. He caused a fumble and gained 506 yards on 19 kickoff returns (26.6-yard average).

Through 37 games at Colorado, Wheatley started 25 contests. He participated in 1,933 defensive plays, recording 142 tackles (111 solo) with 1 1/2 sacks for minus-5 yards, 6 1/2 stops for losses for 13 yards and five quarterback pressures. He recovered two fumbles and caused three others. He also deflected 27 passes (tied for ninth in Colorado history). He ranks tied for sixth in school history with 11 interceptions for 124 yards in returns (11.3 avg) and his two touchdowns rank second on the Colorado all-time record list. He ranks fifth in school history with 937 yards on 38 kickoff returns (24.66 avg). He also added 18 hits on the special-teams coverage units.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Has a lean, but defined frame that can carry at least another 10 pounds of bulk with no loss in quickness...Shows good thickness in his thighs and calves and a toned upper-body torso with surprising power for a player his size...Builds to top speed in a hurry and shows explosive acceleration throughout his running stride...Has the closing burst to instantly make plays in front of him...His second gear is evident by the way he simply races past opponents on kickoff returns...Has very loose hips to redirect and is fluid changing direction...Never takes false steps in transition and shows very good balance on the move...Fearless in run support, closing on the play and pursuing the ballcarriers with good form to push the running game back inside from the perimeter...Has a keen understanding of the playbook, but will still spend time dissecting plays to discover ways to improve his technique...With his wrist surgeries behind him, he is showing much better power behind his tackling form (see 2007 Colorado State and Oklahoma games), doing a good job of wrapping and driving with his strong legs to rock the opponent back... Has made good strides in run support, knowing how to keep his pads low and attack the outside leg to impede the running back's forward progress...Hard worker in the training room who also puts in extra hours studying game films...Type of athlete that performs best against top-level competition, as he loves the challenge...Dependable field leader who will spend extra time mentoring the younger players (has a bit of Troy Vincent in him, as he tries to understand the assignments of every position)...Could possibly make a good coaching candidate one day due to his grasp of the playbook...Quick to read and react to the ball in flight and shows good confidence in his hand extension and timing on his leaps to get to the ball at its high point...Has the loose hips to quickly get back into the action on the rare times he over-pursues...Has the hand placement and mirror ability to stay tight on the receiver during deep routes...Has an explosive closing burst, doing a good job of keeping the action in front of him...Even with his timed speed, he does not get overconfident and give his opponent a large cushion, preferring to stay tight on his man throughout the route's progression...Demonstrates the body control to accelerate and adjust to the ball in flight...Can play off the ball, knowing he has the timed speed to close on the play...Maintains good relationship with the receiver and when he does eye the backfield, he is smart enough not to bite on play action...Has excellent range to make plays across the field...Very aggressive when combating for jump balls and will not hesitate to sacrifice his body and extend for the ball in a crowd...Shows good patience returning kickoffs, but is sudden when he spots the crease...Catches the ball naturally with his hands with the ability to secure the ball outside his frame...Lowers his pads and hits the opponent with a thud...More of a low-cut tackler, but has good wrap-up form. Negatives: Will need to add more bulk to his frame to compete at the next level...Is fully recovered now, but has had several surgeries that eventually led to a fusion in his right wrist...Has a good understanding of the playbook, but just gets by academically (will not have a problem grasping the mental aspect of the game)...Plays with good field vision, but did lose focus at times as a junior (showed marked improvement in maintaining concentration as a senior)...Does not need to throttle down coming out of his breaks, but will round his cuts at times and needs to be more crisp when planting and driving...Generally gets good position to make the wrap tackle, but when he takes a side, he lacks the raw power to latch on and drag his opponent down. Compares To: ELLIS HOBBS-New England...Like Hobbs, Wheatley is a solid shutdown cornerback, thanks to outstanding timed speed and a good understanding of route progression. He is fully recovered from wrist problems that hampered him earlier in his career and showed much better tackling form and power behind his hits as a senior. He has excellent timing and leaping ability competing for the ball in flight and brings added value as a kickoff returner. He makes good adjustments on the move and is an efficient cut tackler who knows how to lower and drive with his shoulder to take the blockers out of action. He will need to continue adding bulk to his frame, but that should not impact his exceptional acceleration. Like Hobbs, he is smart enough to play a variety of roles in the secondary and his versatility will be a plus earlier in his pro career.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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