Treadwell aims to show WR play is about more than speed

Published 1:19 pm Saturday, April 30, 2016

EDEN PRAIRIE  — Laquon Treadwell watched two of his Ole Miss teammates tumble down the draft board in the first round as NFL general managers passed them over thanks to off-the-field concerns.

Treadwell was picked lower than he expected to go not because of fast living off the field, but rather because of slow running on it.

Treadwell dropped to the Minnesota Vikings at No. 23 after he ran a 4.63-second 40-yard dash at his pro day. It wasn’t exactly a plodding time, but it also wasn’t quite the blazing 4.4 that gets scouts drooling around draft time.

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“A lot of guys who are fast can’t go left, can’t go right, can’t go back, can’t go deep, can’t make the play,” Treadwell said on Friday after his introductory news conference.

The Vikings didn’t hesitate to take the record-setting Rebels receiver, pointing to his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame, his large hands and the competitiveness gained from playing multiple positions in high school. Coach Mike Zimmer called him the best blocking receiver he’s ever seen, an important component for an offense that features Adrian Peterson and the running game.

Ole Miss was at the center of the drama on Thursday night. Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil dropped to Miami at No. 13 after a video emerged on social media just before the draft started of him apparently smoking marijuana through a gas mask. Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, who was charged with marijuana possession in December after a nasty fall at a hotel, dropped all the way to the Arizona Cardinals at No. 29.

The father of a 3-year-old girl, Madison, who shared the stage with him in Chicago on Tuesday when his name was called, Treadwell also earned a reputation for high character during this career at Ole Miss. He held a football camp in Oxford, Mississippi, prior to the draft that raised money for scholarships for low-income athletes, and he impressed observers with his tenacity and discipline while coming back from a serious leg injury as a sophomore.

“I know there’s a lot of guys that ran fast that didn’t play very well, too,” Vikings GM Rick Spielman said. “That’s why you always come back and you can have all the analytics and all the times and all the things. It comes back to, what do you see on tape as a football player? I think we felt very strongly of him as a football player, has that smarts and savvy and knows how to play the game.”

Cris Carter, a former Vikings receiver who built a Hall of Fame career on his hands and his precise route-running, not with his speed, has been working with Treadwell. The two are represented by the same agency and Carter was thrilled when he saw his protege land in Minnesota.

“Vikings fan will be happy, and I’ve been working with him and will continue to help,” Carter tweeted.

The pair spent a couple of weeks together, working out in Boca Raton, Florida.

“He has so much knowledge on the game that I didn’t even know it was even possible, the things he was teaching me. From stretching your hands to getting separation. I’m just looking forward to working with him in the near future and continue to build our relationship.”

Treadwell was the fourth receiver taken in the first round, behind Corey Coleman (Browns), Will Fuller (Texans) and Josh Doctson (Redskins).

“I didn’t think I was going to drop that low,” Treadwell said Friday. “My mindset is I’m the top dog. But this is a great situation for me.”