The New York Giants are facing a number of questions in the 2023 offseason, and that is particularly true at the wide receiver position.
Not only do the Giants need to find a true number one receiver, most of their current wide receiving corps is either injured or a free agent. They could have to completely rebuild their receiver depth chart over the coming months. That could make players like West Virginia’s Bryce Ford-Wheaton an intriguing player. He might not be a “number one” receiver, but he has great size for the position and a lot of utility for a team.
Prospect: Bryce Ford-Wheaton (0)
Games Watched: vs. Oklahoma (2021), vs. Minnesota (2021), vs. Pittsburgh (2022), vs. Baylor (2022)
Games Played: 34
Yards (YPC): 1,867 (13.1 per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 15
Games Played: 12
Yards (YPC): 675 (10.9 per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 7
Best: Size, physicality, ball skills, blocking
Worst: Consistency, burst, separation
Projection: A core special teams player with upside as a flanker in the right situation.
Bryce Ford-Wheaton is a big, long, and somewhat lanky receiving prospect from West Virginia. Ford-Wheaton has very good size for a wide receiver at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds with long arms and the room to continue to add additional mass if necessary.
He typically aligned as a wide receiver in West Virginia’s scheme, usually as the X receiver on the line of scrimmage to the offensive left. However, Ford-Wheaton also aligned as a slot receiver, in various positions within bunch sets, and even in the backfield. He was also put in jet motion on occasion as well.
Ford-Wheaton shows solid release off of the line of scrimmage in most cases. In particular, he does a good job of using his size and length to release against press coverage. He makes good use of his long arms and hands to clear defenders in a similar way as pass rushers shedding blockers’ hands. He accelerates smoothly into his routes and is generally a fluid athlete on the move. Ford-Wheaton generally runs accurate routes and shows a good understanding of route concepts.
He was frequently used as a “clear-out” player in West Virginia’s route concepts, using his large frame to force separation for teammates, or to create a down-field threat to occupy coverage players. He also does a good job of finding the voids in zone coverage and making himself available to his quarterback in scramble-drill situations. Ford-Wheaton usually does a good job of locating the ball in the air, making adjustments, extending to expand his catch radius, and plucking the ball out of the air. He also shows solid field awareness and body control to use his frame to shield the ball from defenders in tight quarters.
Ford-Wheaton was also heavily involved in West Virginia’s running game as a perimeter blocker. He is a very willing blocker who uses his length and strength well. He shows no fear of contact and routinely strains to sustain his blocks for as long as necessary.
While Ford-Wheaton is a generally reliable receiver who is capable of making very impressive “circus catches”, he can occasionally suffer concentration drops. Likewise, while he is a smooth athlete, he isn’t an elite athlete. He has “good but not great” long speed thanks to his long legs, and lacks much of a burst out of his breaks. He flashes intriguing quickness and agility in short areas for a tall receiver, but lacks burst out of his cuts or explosiveness when he’s forced to stop his feet. Similarly, Ford-Wheaton is a “one speed” runner who doesn’t show the ability to vary his stride length or tempo throughout his route.
Overall Grade: 6.8
West Virginia wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton projects as a special teams player and receiving depth early in his career. His size, physicality as a blocker, and willingness to take on contact will likely be enough to ensure he is able to carve out a role on both coverage and return teams.
Ford-Wheaton has the potential to grow into a regular contributor on offense as a Flanker or possession receiver in the right situation. His size and long strides could appeal to an offense that’s based in Vertical or Air Coryell principles, while his blocking ability should appeal to any run-focused offense. Ford-Wheaton’s frame and ability to release against press coverage might get him looks as an “X” receiver at the NFL level, but he lacks the relative explosiveness or burst that starting “X” receivers tend to possess.
That said, he will need to continue to improve his route running and hone the finer points of his craft as a receiver. Ford-Wheaton might not have the quickness or agility of a smaller receiver, but his size is an asset with which he can work. That said, he will also need to work on his consistency catching the ball. His ball skills and body control can make for some legitimately impressive catches down the field, but he can also be prone to frustrating concentration drops on what should be easy catches. Given his size, length, strength, physicality, and blocking ability, coaches will want to work with him. Ford-Wheaton could become a strong value later in the draft with some development.