Vikings draft Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell

Published 9:15 am Friday, April 29, 2016

EDEN PRAIRIE — The Minnesota Vikings had an obvious need at wide receiver.

They filled it, literally, in a big way.

Mississippi’s Laquon Treadwell was selected by the Vikings with the 23rd overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night, giving a lagging passing attack a 6-foot-2, 221-pound target who led the SEC with 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

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“We wanted to get a big receiver with a big catching radius. We just felt like with this football team it was important for us to get some size out there,” said coach Mike Zimmer. “This guy’s a big, physical guy that little guys are going to have a hard time defending.”

Treadwell, the all-time leading receiver in Ole Miss history with 202 career catches, recovered from a gruesome ankle dislocation and broken fibula on his left leg that occurred while being tackled at the goal line in a game against Auburn on Nov. 1, 2014. Treadwell’s 40-yard dash time of 4.63 seconds at his on-campus pro workout day certainly gave other teams pause, but the Vikings weren’t deterred.

“We felt very strongly that he was one of the top receivers in this draft,” general manager Rick Spielman said. “I think the 40 time may have knocked him some, but you have to go off what you see on tape.”

The speed will increase, the Vikings said, once Treadwell continues to put the injury further in the past.

“There’s nothing you can really rush,” Treadwell said. “It just comes with time.”

Baylor’s Corey Coleman was the first wide receiver off the board, snagged by Cleveland at No. 15. Houston flip-flopped with Washington to take Notre Dame’s Will Fuller at No. 21, and then TCU’s Josh Doctson followed. Spielman said the Vikings fielded calls from four teams trying to trade into their spot, but he balked. The run of wide receivers left little guarantee they’d be able find a top-tier player at that position if they went lower.

Treadwell, then, became the highest selection by the Vikings at the position since Percy Harvin went at No. 22 in 2009.