Laquon Treadwell to Minnesota: We Should Temper Fantasy Football Expectations
For diehard NFL fans, the NFL Draft is like Christmas morning with the amount of excitement and anticipation.
Drafting a player can cause divides among the fanbase -- those in favor of the player and those who are quick to point out his flaws.
Taking a quarterback first overall can divide the fanbase quickly. Arguments of whether or not he can read NFL defenses or if he's the franchise's savior will permeate message boards from draft night through training camp.
A defensive tackle capable of both interior disruption and the ability to plug the run can be a nice pick, likely praised by most.
Then there's the wide receiver. The first-round wide receiver. That is the sexy pick.
Add in the fact that the wide receiver's a large 6'2", 221-pound SEC monster, and now we've got the entire Minnesota fanbase salivating at what this prospect can bring to the offense.
The top wide receiver prospect in the country, Treadwell established a productive collegiate career during his time with Ole Miss.
Laquon Treadwell the Prospect
Treadwell's stock has been a rollercoaster this past year.
After a slow start returning from a broken fibula to begin the season, Treadwell went on a tear finishing his collegiate career. The Ole Miss standout finished his junior year with 82 receptions for 1,153 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
Despite playing only three seasons for Ole Miss, Treadwell leaves the Rebels as the school's all-time reception leader. A bully in the SEC against opposing defensive backs, Treadwell led the conference in receiving yards and touchdowns his final season.
However, an unimpressive combine performance kept his NFL-hype rollercoaster moving unpredictably. Check out his spider graph from MockDraftable.
While the raw athleticism didn't show up in these workouts, Treadwell has proven over the course of his collegiate career that he's a more-than-capable receiver.
Treadwell was a force in the SEC. Able to use every pound of his large frame, Treadwell was able to shield defenders with his size while extending his 33⅜" arms and make plays.
His physicality is something that will draw immediate attention at the next level. Treadwell was able to do a lot of his damage after the catch in the SEC through a series of power moves and some shifty veteran savvy to set up the defender at a poor tackling angle. Wide receiver guru Matt Harmon has charted this incoming rookie class and came away with some interesting results surrounding Treadwell.
Harmon found that Treadwell was well above the rookie class average in terms of "tackle breaking" in space. When in space in a one-on-one situation with a defender, Treadwell was able to break the tackle attempt 51.9% of the time, well above the incoming rookie average of 40.5%. He was even more successful (relatively speaking) at breaking multiple tackles, with a success rate at 14.8%, more than doubling the prospect average of 6.4%.
One of the most underrated parts of Treadwell's game is his release off the line. Treadwell is able to use a series of moves with his hands, footwork, and deception to create clean breaks off the line of scrimmage. In a similar fashion to how Odell Beckham's route running got him early snaps and playing time, Treadwell's savviness in his release should pay immediate dividends as he transitions to the NFL.
Another aspect of Treadwell's game that jumps out on film is his blocking down the field. He often walled off on defenders to help provide additional yards for his teammates. That type of play is something that will get him on the field often and early at his young age, something that a team like Vikings can capitalize on in spades.
Laquon Treadwell the Viking
Taken with the 23rd overall pick, Treadwell enters a unique situation with the run-heavy Vikings. Minnesota's offense was once again anchored around running back Adrian Peterson, as their offense ran the ball 51.1% of the time (third-highest in the NFL).
Treadwell's physical blocking style shouldn't be an issue as he climbs his way up the less-than-crowded depth chart the Vikings have at the receiver position.
The depth chart in Minnesota leaves much to be desired, slating Treadwell in line for immediate snaps. Will they be fruitful ones for fantasy purposes?
|Wide Receiver||Year||Targets||Receptions||Receiving Yds||Rec TDs||PPR FPs|
|Stefon Diggs||2015||84||52||720||4||149.3 (WR45)|
|Mike Wallace||2015||72||39||473||2||98.9 (WR74)|
|Greg Jennings||2014||92||59||742||6||169.2 (WR42)|
|Jarius Wright||2014||62||42||588||2||119.9 (WR62)|
Over the past two years since Teddy Bridgewater joined the Vikings, the top-two receivers have struggled to find fantasy relevance. Mike Wallace's departure leaves a void for Treadwell to fill in immediately, as the Vikings have a nice complementary pair of receivers in the big-bodied Treadwell and the speedster Stefon Diggs.
Given that Minnesota has struggled to provide a fantasy receiver finishing better than a WR4, we should temper our fantasy expectations with Treadwell in his rookie season.
It's doubtful we see either a high-volume or heavily efficient performance for him.
However, Treadwell should come in and see immediate snaps at the wide receiver position for an offense that's bereft of playmakers. While we continue to watch Bridgewater progress as an NFL quarterback, Diggs and Treadwell should naturally see more volume if the offense wants to prolong Peterson's tenure and health.
Sadly, we just may not see as many highlight-type receptions from Treadwell until the offense shifts its philosophy towards their new, younger offensive players.
For now, Minnesota fans can rejoice in the fact that their team was able to capitalize on a weak preconceived notion that Treadwell doesn't have NFL speed that let him slip to the 23rd overall pick. Although Treadwell might take some time in this offense to reach his ceiling, the Vikings secured one of the best playmakers at the draft at a very affordable cost.