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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Draft preview: Receiver may be the route with Vikings’ top pick

By Andrew Krammer

MINNEAPOLIS — Receiver? Offensive tackle? Safety? Linebacker?

The Vikings’ first-round position with the 23rd-overall pick, combined with general manager Rick Spielman’s love for the trade, make their top selection less predictable than mockers indicate. With that written, I still contend the Vikings need a long, physical target to further quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s development.

Let’s assess why receiver checks in as my No. 1 need for the Vikings.

No. 2: Vikings have two for future, could use third at linebacker
No. 3: Vikings shouldn’t rule out stockpiling OL with eye beyond ’16
No. 4: Even with Griffin addition, Vikings could bolster safety
No. 5: Vikings may add to ‘important’ spot on defensive line

Depth chart

WR Stefon Diggs, 22
WR Jarius Wright, 26
WR Charles Johnson, 27
WR Adam Thielen, 25
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, 25
WR Terrell Sinkfield, 25
WR Isaac Fruechte, 25

Situation

The Vikings only tweaks at WR this offseason have been releasing Mike Wallace and signing CFL receiver Terrell Sinkfield. They have some quantity and could really use quality after some misfortune with recent receivers. Cordarrelle Patterson hasn’t been able to earn playing time under this coaching staff, and likely enters his contract year. While Charles Johnson entered last season as a breakout hopeful before a broken rib in Week 3 derailed his season. Johnson could certainly return and contribute, but should they bank on that as a long-term solution? Beyond the talent is the priority. They addressed the offensive line in free agency and would be well off should one of the draft’s top receivers, especially big targets in Laquon Treadwell or Josh Doctson, falls to pick No. 23. The development of third-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is critical and they need a player who could turn Bridgewater’s close misses into completions. Stefon Diggs and Jarius Wright are solid and would fit well around a big-time addition.

Three to watch

1. Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss (6-2, 221)

A five-star recruit out of Chicago and will now forgo his senior season to enter the draft at age 20 as the all-time leader in receptions for the Rebels. Came back from a broken fibula and dislocated ankle as a sophomore to lead the SEC last fall with 11 touchdown receptions, including three in his final game for Ole Miss. Among the longest arms (33 3/8?) of receivers at the combine. Visited the Vikings this month and reportedly made six other pre-draft visits to teams. Scouting reports praise his imposing style and wins on contested catches, while questioning how his speed translates to the NFL. A likely first-round pick.

“My family just made sure I stayed up and [in] high spirits,” Treadwell said at the scouting combine, referring to his recovery from the gruesome 2014 injury. “I just continued to work hard. It was night and day from six in the morning to 11 at night. Sometimes I would sleep in the facility and just stay up there and watch film, watch myself before and just try to get that comfort level, that confidence back. Some days I was getting pushed out of bounds by defensive backs and talking trash to me, but that all made me the person I am today.”

2. Josh Doctson, TCU (6-2, 202)

Has the size and hands to potentially fill the Vikings’ need for a No. 1 receiver. Named first-team All American last fall after setting a handful of school records at TCU as a senior, including 267 yards against Texas Tech in September. Made a name for himself with acrobatic, highlight-reel grabs in TCU’s spread system. Strengthened his draft case with a strong combine, including the top vertical jump (41?) and top marks in the broad jump (131?) and shuttle runs. Admittedly ran a limited route tree in an air-raid offense. Missed the final three games of the year after injuring his wrist against Kansas on Nov. 14. A likely first-round pick.

“I had surgery at the end of November,” Doctson said at the scouting combine. “I was in a long-arm cast for about six weeks. I had two pins to stabilize the arm and bone, and got it removed.”

3. Michael Thomas, Ohio State (6-3, 212)

A two-year starter at Ohio State. Leaving school as a redshirt junior after his age 22 season. Nephew of former No. 1-overall pick Keyshawn Johnson. Redshirted as a sophomore, reportedly to focus on his grades and the playbook, after appearing in 11 games as a freshman. Scouting reports praise his routes, while questioning how limited he was by the Buckeyes’ run-first offense. Caught nine touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. Could be a first- or second-round pick.

“I had a plan the whole time,” Thomas said at the scouting combine, referring to his redshirt 2013 season. “It didn’t go straight line, but I corrected it, got back on track. Now I’m just chasing my dream.”

The post Draft preview: Receiver may be the route with Vikings’ top pick appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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