On Thursday night, the Minnesota Vikings used the 23rd overall pick on Laquon Treadwell, once considered the clear best wide receiver in the draft class. Treadwell held off on the 40 yard dash at the Combine, where times are often slower than pro days. This tactic may have worked, but the pro day 4.62 40 really hurt his draft stock. You watch the film and Treadwell is not burning guys down the field, but he makes great catches. He has great hands and understands how to run routes and uses his body to complete the play. The concern could be that he might be close to his ceiling. Still, he is a ready-made starter on a team badly in need of someone to help take a passing attack to a next level. Norv Turner has traditionally wanted to push a vertical passing game, but this pick is more about moving chains on third and ten than about making the deep game dangerous. TCU's Josh Doctson might have been the player they wanted, but Treadwell is nice consolation.
This pick brings in a needed pass catching threat. Minnesota gambled on bringing in the speedy Mike Wallace and it failed. The biggest successes have been unheralded draft pick Stefon Diggs and free agent pick up Charles Johnson. The last first round wide receiver for the Vikings was Cordarrelle Patterson who brought the flash initially, but never seemed to get better. Treadwell is more the polished product than Patterson, who was considered talent who never really mastered route running. Treadwell has better hands and will be the sort of player who will be exactly where he is supposed to be. This is great for a young quarterback who needs the security of a consistent target. People are making the comparisons to Anquon Boldin and Michael Irvin as a top end comparable. This will also mean the Vikings have an option in the red zone beyond Adrian Peterson.
With Peterson coming off a season where he led the NFL in running yards (thanks in part to injuries to Jamaal Charles and Le'Veon Bell), but he is getting older. Vikings currently project to see quite a few players head to free agency after this season (Over the Cap shows that the cap space jumps from just over $9 million to $61 million based on current contracts). Vikings needed an immediate impact and give them a chance to win now.
Secondarily, this pick will help the Vikings determine exactly what they have in Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater has had numbers that put him somewhere in the middle of NFL quarterbacks. He was 22nd in passing yards (3,2, 26th in passing touchdowns (14), and 22nd in QB rating for players with 300 or more pass attempts (88.7). The Vikings solidified a receiving corps that will help them examine what they have as Bridgewater enters his possible renegotiation this coming offseason.