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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: Treadwell pick has nothing to do with the future and everything to do with winning now

By Judd Zulgad

The Vikings did the predictable by taking wide receiver Laquon Treadwell when their pick in the first round of the NFL draft arrived on Thursday night. But, in this case, there was nothing wrong with doing the expected.

By grabbing the Mississippi wide out 23rd overall, general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer acknowledged the Vikings are no longer in the process of building a team where they feel obligated to take the best player available, no matter the position.

Coming off an 11-5 season in which they won their first NFC North title since 2009, the Vikings knew exactly what needed to be done this offseason.

Zimmer, one of the best defensive minds in the NFL, had made the necessary fixes on that side of the ball and certainly defensive positions will continue to be addressed over the next two days as the draft continues in Chicago.

The offense, though, was most in need of help. While Adrian Peterson led the NFL in rushing in 2015, the Vikings’ passing game ranked 31st in the league and the team’s 14 touchdown passes also were second to last.

This was due in part to the fact that the expected chemistry between quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and wide receiver Mike Wallace (only 39 catches and two touchdowns) never developed. To make matters more difficult, Bridgewater often found the pocket breaking down and was sacked 44 times, tied for sixth most in the league.

The Vikings took steps toward improving the protection for Bridgewater in free agency by signing veteran left guard Alex Boone (San Francisco) to a four-year, $26.8 million contract and veteran right tackle Andre Smith (Cincinnati) to a one-year, $3.5 million deal.

This left wide receiver as the one area the Vikings had yet to upgrade, although releasing Wallace was addition by subtraction.

On Thursday, the Vikings added the 20-year-old Treadwell, who led the SEC in receiving yards (1,153) and touchdown catches (11) as a junior last fall.

Stefon Diggs, a fifth-round pick by the Vikings last spring, is likely to enter training camp atop the depth chart, but the realistic expectation is Treadwell will be right behind him. Jarius Wright, playing in the slot, should be the third receiver, followed by Charles Johnson, Adam Thielen and kickoff return man and failed fist-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson.

Treadwell was the fourth wide receiver to go in the first round after Cleveland took Baylor’s Corey Coleman at 15, Houston selected Notre Dame’s Will Fuller at 21 and Washington took TCU’s Josh Doctson at 22. There was some grumbling the Vikings did not jump up and get Doctson, but Spielman waited patiently as Washington and Houston actually flipped picks.

There are concerns about Treadwell. He ran a substandard 40-yard dash (4.63) at the Ole Miss pro day, has had an issue at times with dropping passes and suffered a gruesome injury (fractured left fibula, dislocated ankle) in a game against Auburn in November 2014. The injury, obviously, has slowed him.

But Treadwell also possesses the size (6-2, 202 pounds) and strength that allows him to go up and get the ball, especially in the red zone, and makes it hard for defenders to bring him down once it’s in his possession. He also is known as an excellent blocker, something the Vikings will value because they will continue to rely on Peterson in the run game.

“I just think I fell to the right place,” Treadwell told ESPN Radio. “Of course, I wanted to go higher (in the draft). Who doesn’t? But I’m with the right team and glad to be part of this organization.”

The Vikings now will rely on Treadwell to be a quick study. He wasn’t selected because he might turn into a good player, like Patterson was in 2013 when the Vikings made a trade with the Patriots that was based on potential and nothing more.

Treadwell was acquired to help the Vikings, and Bridgewater, get past the first round of the playoffs in 2016. The Vikings won’t say it, but they’ll be disappointed if Treadwell doesn’t start in Week 1 and begin standing out either that week or shortly thereafter.

Zimmer has a team that’s ready to win now. And that’s why the Vikings decided Treadwell was the best fit for their roster on Thursday.

The post Zulgad: Treadwell pick has nothing to do with the future and everything to do with winning now appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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