A couple weeks ago, our team here at Vikings Territory worked diligently to provide you with in-depth breakdowns and extended introductions to the Vikings’ newest players added through the 2016 draft. The 2016 iteration of the “Welcome to the Big Show” series, which has become an annual tradition, concludes today with the Vikings first selection, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. Links to the other players featured can be found here: Stephen Weatherly, Willie Beavers, David Morgan II, Jayron Kearse, Mackensie Alexander, Kentrell Brothers and Moritz Böhringer.
HEIGHT: 6′ 2″
WEIGHT: 221 pounds
ARM LENGTH: 33.5 inches
HANDS: 9.5 inches
PRO DAY RESULTS
40-YARD DASH: 4.63 seconds (did not run at the NFL Combine)
BENCH PRESS: 12 repetitions (of 225 pounds)
VERTICAL JUMP: 33 inches
BROAD JUMP: 117 inches
20-YARD SHORT SHUTTLE: 4.29 seconds
3-CONE: 7.05 seconds
Treadwell’s love for the game began at an early age. He played football with other kids in his neighborhood until the sun went down, and he remembers that “it got so dark that we couldn’t see the ball.” Raised in University Park, Illinois, Treadwell began his football career at 10 years old when he started playing youth football, leading his team to an undefeated season and a championship title.
That’s where he says he fell in love with winning.[quote_center]”I wasn’t playing just to play anymore. I was playing to win championships. Every season in youth football, that was my mindset. And we kept on winning.”[/quote_center]
He continued into high school, where he played for Crete-Monee High on a team that had never been to a state championship. Treadwell moved quickly up the ranks and was playing with the varsity team as a sophomore, where the “Warriors” went undefeated but fell short of a title in the playoffs.
Unsatisfied with personal accomplishments and individual awards, Treadwell was determined to lead Crete-Monee to their first state championship in school history before leaving for college. And he did.[quote_center]”I won some individual awards along the way and ended up as the second-leading receiver in Illinois history — and I truly value those honors and accomplishments — but I was playing for the title. All I wanted was that ring. Championship mindset.”[/quote_center]
Treadwell was regarded as Illinois’ top football recruit when he became eligible in 2013. He was rated as a 5-star recruit and generally considered the nation’s number one wide receiver. Highly sought after, Treadwell ultimately settled on Ole Miss, choosing the Rebels over the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and many others.
In 2014, Treadwell showed the world why he was considered one of the best receivers in the nation. Unfortunately, he suffered a broken fibula and dislocated ankle late in a game against Auburn. With 1:30 left in the game, Treadwell took a screen pass to the 1-yard line and was tackled from behind. His body bent awkwardly and he broke his tibia, dislocated his ankle and fumbled the ball – closing out the game and allowing Auburn to leave victorious.[quote_center]”That was the only time I hung my head over my injury. We had lost the game, and I had a broken leg and a dislocated ankle. Our title hopes were dashed, and my season was over. That night, I had surgery. Then, I went back to work.”[/quote_center]
Determined to move past the injury and return to football, Treadwell worked hard to return stronger and better than he was before. In 2015, he made a full recovery and was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, an honor given to the nation’s best receiver. He was also an All-SEC first team selection, a finalist for the Conerly Trophy (Mississippi’s best player), Midseason National Comeback Player of the Year by ESPN.com, and many more. He led all SEC players with 1,153 receiving yards that year.
- Well-built with a muscular upper body and long arms, allowing him to box out defenders at the point of the catch.
- Deceptively fast; long strider with just enough speed to be a vertical threat.
- Natural catcher who uses his hands to pluck the ball away from his body and win most 50/50 contested throws.
- Able to pick up chunks of yards after the catch using his strength and athleticism.
- Competitive and self-motivated with a team first attitude. Win-first mentality.
- The best blocking wide receiver to come out of the draft in a long time.
- Explosive first step and strong arms allow him to break press coverage from the snap.
- Good route runner who uses head and hip fakes to sell the route and gain additional separation.
- Has a nose for finding open space in a defense.
- Possible injury concerns after suffering a broken fibula and dislocated ankle as a sophomore in 2014.
- Does not possess elite speed and will not blow away defenses with his straight line speed.
- Plays with physicality and emotion, which can sometimes lead to false starts and personal fouls.
PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS: Let’s start with the bad, shall we? Pro Football Focus was not a fan of Laquon Treadwell. Sam Monson breaks down his reasons here. Monson’s primary concern is his belief that Treadwell was not able to separate well from defenders at the college level and won’t be able to at the next level either.
WALTER FOOTBALL: Walter Football liked a lot of things about Treadwell and saw him as a late first-round talent. It’s worth noting that they also share the concern about his ability to separate.
NFL.com: This NFL.com Draft Profile compares Treadwell to superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and cites an AFC scout who questions when teams are going to stop overvaluing speed and start focusing on the tape.
CBS Sports: CBS Sports makes another impressive comparison for Treadwell, saying that he “shows a [Dez] Bryant skillset with his size and athleticism combination.”
As mentioned in prior Welcome to the Big Show posts, Vikings Territory does not create these videos, which may contain music and/or commentary not suitable for all audiences.
Treadwell was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the 23rd pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Immediately following the selection, speculation whirred on whether or not Treadwell was the top-rated receiver on Minnesota’s board. Will Fuller and Josh Doctson, who would have been the preferred pick in some circles, were taken just before the Vikings made their selection.
Regardless, Laquon couldn’t have been happier with where he ended up.[quote_center]“I’m just a kid coming up and chasing dreams. You always want to go as high as possible, so I was surprised, I just think I fell to the right spot. It’s just an amazing experience, honestly. I was shocked, I just thanked I went to the right program and organization. It’s just a lot for me right now.”[/quote_center]
In the press conference following the pick, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman elaborated on what they liked about the receiver from Ole Miss.[quote_center]”We spent a lot of time with him through the process. We spent time with him at the combine, we brought him up here on a Top 30 visit. We feel that what he’s going to bring to our offense is that large catching radius, a guy that’s very physical, maybe the best run blocker I’ve seen. But also can make catches with his large hand and catching radius.”[/quote_center]
Head Coach Mike Zimmer echoed most of Spielman’s sentiments regarding Treadwell’s abilities on the field, but then focused on another aspect of his game – his attitude.[quote_center]”I like tough guys. I like physical guys. It doesn’t have to be just on defense, it can be all over the football field. It’s an attitude we’re trying to present here with the Vikings. And he has an attitude about him.”[/quote_center]
Though it was Treadwell’s moment to shine, his three-year-old daughter Madison stole the show. Madison accompanied Treadwell onto the stage during the selection, shook hands with Roger Goodell and was even interviewed by Deion Sanders while her father held her during one of his biggest moments.
The readers at Vikings Territory overwhelmingly approved of the pick, with over 93% giving it an “A” or “B” grade.
THE VIKINGS FIT
Treadwell will play the role Mike Wallace had before he was released by the Vikings this offseason. He will likely spend a majority of his time lined up outside, where he can use his verticality, large frame and big catching radius to stretch the field and provide a deep option for Bridgewater.
However, we’ve also seen that Treadwell is great at beating defenders right at the line and finding soft spots in underneath coverage. He is a well-rounded receiver who can be used in numerous ways to exploit defenses. Surprisingly, some of Treadwell’s strengths and abilities are contrary to those of the prototypical outside receiver and even make him a potential fit in the slot, where he could be matched up against smaller cornerbacks and linebackers.
His abilities as an exceptional run blocker will likely keep him on the field a majority of the time and may result in the Vikings running the ball outside more often.
Treadwell’s presence should give quarterback Teddy Bridgewater a target that he can throw the ball to whether he’s covered by a defender or not.
All indicators point to Treadwell being a Day 1 starter for the Vikings.