Most of the discussion about the Green Bay Packers' first-round draft pick in next week's 2016 NFL Draft has centered around the front seven. Defensive linemen have dominated most of the discussion, with inside linebackers and pass-rushers also coming up often.
Every once in a while, wide receivers will be discussed, though the most talked-about option there is TCU's Josh Doctson. However, this mock draft from ESPN's Louis Riddick posts some interesting questions:
Riddick has the Packers taking Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell with the 27th pick, with Alabama inside linebacker Reggie Ragland going at #28 to Kansas City. This is a curious choice, to be sure. For one thing, most mock drafts have Treadwell off the board earlier, and the possibility of him falling to 27 has not been heavily addressed.
The bigger concern about Treadwell as a prospect is that he struggles to get separation from defensive backs. He has excellent ball skills and his strength is in making contested catches with coverage nearby. However, as our Paul Noonan noted a few weeks ago when discussing James Jones (who shares some of those traits with Treadwell), Aaron Rodgers rarely tends to throw to players who are in closely contested coverage:
Jones is very skilled at using his body to screen off defenders and fight for the ball, but receivers who have this skill are not really "open" in the eyes of Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is famously careful with the ball, and part of the reason for this is his amazing vision and lightning quick decision-making as to whether a player is open or not. Rodgers is clearly willing to take a sack instead of making a risky throw and so a player like Jones, who is sometimes "open" even when covered closely, will not see as many passes come his way.
Rodgers is extremely skilled at anticipating when a receiver will make his move and pop open, and unfortunately, this sometimes never happens with Jones. There are a lot of WRs who have made a good living by doing this, it's just not a skill set that happens to work well in Green Bay.
This would be the main argument against Treadwell being a good fit - he simply will not get the ball thrown to him if Rodgers does not deem him to be truly open. Doctson possesses excellent route-running skills to go along with his good speed, and as such he finds himself getting real separation. Notre Dame's Will Fuller uses blazing speed to break free. Treadwell is much more in the Jones mold, which just does not lend itself to success with Rodgers throwing the ball.
Some Packers fans would likely question whether taking a receiver over an inside linebacker in round one is wise, given the current state of the roster. My opinion is that the Packers should stick to their board, and I would have no problem with it - but only if it is the right receiver. However, I firmly believe that Treadwell would not be that player.