A lot of eyebrows were raised back in April when the Minnesota Vikings selected Mississippi standout Laquon Treadwell with the 23rd overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. While many Vikings fans realized that Treadwell was a player that filled the team's biggest need, many outsider types were skeptical of the selection thanks to Treadwell's "sub-par" Pro Day performance during the pre-draft process.
NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks, however, does not appear to be one of those people.
Brooks has an article up on the league's flagship site where he projects the statistics for various rookies across the National Football League, and he thinks pretty highly of Treadwell and what he will bring to Minnesota's offense.
Best-case scenario: Treadwell emerges as a WR1, enabling Teddy Bridgewater to take the next step in his development as a franchise quarterback. The 6-foot-2, 221-pound pass catcher anchors the passing game and immediately becomes the Vikings' designated red-zone weapon. His willingness to do the dirty work between the hashes helps Stefon Diggs manufacture big plays outside the numbers. As Bridgewater begins to find his rhythm in a retooled offense, his new WR1's performance and production spurs the Vikings into legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Worst-case scenario: Skeptics who worried about Treadwell's ability to create separation due to his pedestrian 40 time are vindicated. Although he shows he's capable of using his physicality and size to ward defenders off at the catch point, Treadwell has trouble consistently getting open against CB1s in key moments highlighting a need for him to refine his technical skills.
My projection: 65 receptions, 850 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Now, those aren't necessarily eye-popping numbers or anything. . .unless you look at what the Vikings have done at wide receiver over the past few seasons in terms of productivity. In the case of an offense like Minnesota's, 850 yards and ten touchdowns would be pretty damn impressive. If Treadwell were to reach double digits in touchdowns, he would be the first Vikings' pass catcher to accomplish that feat since Visanthe Shiancoe reeled in eleven scoring catches in 2009.
Those 850 yards? That would have been a big enough number to lead the Vikings in receiving yardage in 2015. Or 2014. Or 2013. Or 2012. It would be the highest yardage total for a Vikings' receiver since Percy Harvin put up 967 yards in 2011. The Vikings have not had a 1,000-yard receiver since Sidney Rice in 2009.
The numbers that Brooks projects for Treadwell are significantly better than those he projects for the three receivers that went ahead of him in the first round of the draft. Brooks has Cleveland receiver Corey Coleman projected for 50 catches, 700 yards, and five scores. Houston receiver Will Fuller is projected for 45/600/4, while Washington receiver Josh Doctson is projected for 35/550/6. In addition, for all the hand-wringing about Treadwell's speed (or alleged lack thereof), these projections would give him a comparable yards/catch figure (13.1 ypc) to Fuller (13.3) or Coleman (14.0).
Treadwell was thought to be the top receiving prospect in the 2016 draft class for much of the pre-draft process, and for good reason. Here's hoping that Brooks is correct and he shows why in his rookie year.