Wheatley was a first-round pick of the New York Giants in 1995, selected 17th overall. The Giants however, already had an established starter at running back, who was also a first-round pick, in Rodney Hampton, five years prior. Wheatley found opportunities scarce. The start to his career is what he'll have in common with Spiller, who was also a first-round pick that had to wait his turn.
He'll also be able to relate to Jackson, who was passed over for higher draft choices and players with bigger contracts. After playing behind Hampton his first two seasons, Wheatley thought he'd get the lion's share of the load after Hampton went out with a season ending injury in Week 2 in his third NFL season. Instead he split the workload with FB Charles Way and an up and coming rookie named Tiki Barber.
"Early in my career I was forced into a single mold, which wasn't my mold," said Wheatley of his Giants career.
The following year Wheatley was with a different team, signing with the Oakland Raiders as a free agent. He was finally the lead back and rushed for almost 1,000 yards in Jon Gruden's offense along with 11 touchdowns. The following season he eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau and added 10 more touchdowns as the Raiders advanced to the AFC Championship game before losing to eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore.
Wheatley eager to work with Jackson and Spiller
BuffaloBills.com | Jan 26