With the No. 23 pick of the 2016 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings select Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell.
First of all, understand that the talk about Treadwell's speed, or lackt hereof, is overblown. In Ole Miss's limited passing offense, he was often open and unseen. He's a tough, physical, consistent receiver who won't set any land speed records against deep safeties, but has the skills to become Minnesota's top receiver. Yes, that's a low bar at this point, but GM Rick Spielman has to start somewhere, and Treadwell is a good place to do just that. Add him to Stefon Diggs in the Vikings' receiver battery and Teddy Bridgewater will be one happy QB.
Strengths: Treadwell has the idea size for an NFL receiver with decent acceleration and excellent musculature. Shows a lot of power in several aspects of his game—as an after-catch receiver, he’s able to turn out of a defender and get upfield. Excellent on contested catches, where he can use his vertical leap and upper-body strength to catch the ball with bodies around him. Times his separation moves well and properly gauges any subtle push-offs. Trails the ball very well with his eyes; maintains vision even when he’s face-guarded and won’t give up the ball location too quickly with early looks. Feigns his position very well at the line of scrimmage, and can foot-fake and eye-fake his cornerback into starting in the wrong direction. Stutter-go routes are a specialty. Gets up to speed pretty quickly off the start of his route.
Treadwell understands that he’s going to see a ton of press coverage with his deep speed deficits and seems to welcome the hand-fighting that requires. Sinks into his cuts well and breaks off into them smoothly, with minimal movement. Ran into openings, especially when he sank into zones, more often than was shown on the stat sheet. Clears through slants and skinny posts quickly—he understands angles, which adds to his field speed, and he’s able to make up ground with long strides. Good blocker with the potential to be great with coaching and technique work. Treadwell also serves as a valuable decoy for other receivers, because he takes coverage with him wherever he goes. Mature player with a highly competitive personality.
Weaknesses: Will need to broaden his routes, since he runs mostly curls, drags and vertical routes. Needs to be more efficient in his movements in short spaces. Speed issues cannot be ignored—Treadwell isn’t a burner who’s going to break multiple defenders on posts and vertical routes, and if his quarterback is throwing it up for grabs, those defenders may have time to converge on him. While he’s relatively quick off the snap, Treadwell tends to get choppy with his steps at the point of second-level acceleration. Will have quicker cornerbacks following him throughout his entire routes unless he beats them with correctly-times cuts. Competitive demeanor and handsy style could lead to more penalties in the NFL.