Mountaineers in the Pros
Asti: Bryce Ford-Wheaton Has Done Everything Possible to Impress NFL Teams
No matter what any NFL Draft prospect does leading up to the draft itself, there’s only so much that can be done to improve their value. And WVU product Bryce Ford-Wheaton has done all he can at this point.
Much like fellow former Mountaineer Dante Stills, Ford-Wheaton showed up to WVU’s Pro Day, but kept his participation to a minimum. He had nothing more to gain from testing himself in any further way.
This is because the 6’4″ wide receiver thoroughly impressed at the NFL Combine weeks prior. Ford-Wheaton confidently threw a shot across the bow during interviews the day before receivers took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. He said he was going to put on a show in Indianapolis, and he did just that.
Ford-Wheaton posted a 4.38 time in the 40-yard-dash, which by most accounts in attendance was something few were expecting. He also posted a 41 inch vertical jump. Risking recording a worse time or looking ever so slightly less than he did at the Combine would’ve done nothing to help his standing with NFL teams.
Bryce Ford-Wheaton Delivers on Proclamation, Runs 4.38 in 40-Yard Dash
The Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina native hasn’t been shy about voicing his frustration in how some NFL Draft experts are grading him. He then doubled down on this feeling while talking to the media at WVU’s Pro Day.
When asked if he stills feels he’s being slept on, and those are the exact words he’s used in the past, first at the East-West Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas, and then again at the Combine, Ford-Wheaton didn’t hold back. “Every time you do what they say you can’t do, they’re going to add something on and you can’t do this now,” Ford-Wheaton said when asked if he stills feels he’s being slept on. “I’m still hearing it, but I’m still going to prove them wrong at the end of the day and just keep working,” he added.
Is Ford-Wheaton Really Being Slept On?
To put his Combine showing into its proper perspective, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf and cornerback Tariq Woolen are the only players to ever break 4.4 seconds in the 40 and record a vertical of at least 40 inches while standing at 6’3″ or higher. For a tall receiver, Ford-Wheaton posted freakish type numbers.
It’s only natural for an athlete to feel a sense of disrespect when he (or she) is not receiving as much love and adulation as others. But with that said, does Ford-Wheaton have a point? Is he being unfairly doubted? Well, to his credit, he showed significant improvement each year at WVU. So much so, he’s said he’s now disgusted whenever he watches his own film from 2019.
He also had to learn multiple systems and coaches and deal with different style quarterbacks in just the last two years alone. These are things, that while may have been hassle for him in college, now make him better equipped to adapt when those kind of challenges inevitably come his way in the NFL. Is that being recognized as much as maybe it should be? That’s debatable.
What Did He Do at Pro Day?
What he did do in front of NFL scouts and personnel in Morgantown was run routes. And fortunately for Ford-Wheaton, he knew that was something that was guaranteed to go well. Not only has he been trying to protect more of the route tree needed in the NFL, and that might be what teams are wondering about with him, but he also had a familiar quarterback throwing him the ball.
Former WVU signal caller Jarret Doege returned to his old stomping grounds to join in on Pro Day fun and throw passes to any receivers and tight ends there, in particular his old WVU teammates Ford-Wheaton and Sam James.
“He came up here on Thursday. We threw together Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We didn’t really need to do much else,” Ford-Wheaton said. “We knew we had the timing down because we played together so long.”
He’s Been Putting in the Work
It was during Shrine Bowl practices that Ford-Wheaton realized what was missing from his game. “Going against corners that are my size. Going against nothing but man. It’s been different,” said Ford-Wheaton. “Press man is kinda different. We don’t see a lot of that in the Big 12. The corners are really just trying to mess up your timing and mess up your route, and defeating that at the line and getting a lot of separation is harder, but I know that’s what it is in the league. So I’m getting adjusted to it and getting better day by day,” he said.
The NFL will always find quality receivers, and there’s reason to believe Ford-Wheaton can be one of them.