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Bleacher Report – Vikings

What’s next for Laquon Treadwell?

By Matthew Coller

If the 2017 season was a make-or-break year for Laquon Treadwell, his performance trended more toward break than make.

In a season that saw incredible output from Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, the shortcomings of the No. 3 – and later in the year No. 4 – receiver stood out. Diggs ranked No. 1 in the NFL in contested catches, Thielen made his way into the top 10 seasons by a receiver in team history. But quarterback Case Keenum completed just 20 of 35 throws with zero touchdowns, two interceptions and a 47.8 rating when targeting Treadwell.

The former Ole Miss star was given his chances early on, playing more than 50 percent of snaps in five of the first seven games. Over the final nine weeks, he only topped 40 percent two times. In the playoffs, he saw the field for 19 percent in the Divisional Round game against New Orleans and 22 percent in the NFC Championship game. Veteran Jarius Wright was given 47 percent and 57 percent of snaps in the two postseason games.

The question is whether the Vikings should still hold out hope that their former first rounder will make progress and become some type of role player or if they should start looking at more options.

Playing the wait-and-see game is more of a challenge with the 2016 first-round pick than it was with Cordarrelle Patterson, a first-round pick who also struggled out of the gate. Treadwell isn’t a kick or punt returner and doesn’t offer rushing or playmaking ability the way Patterson did in 2016.

Scouting reports indicated that his one great skill was the ability to win battles for the ball. compared him to DeAndre Hopkins. His draft profile said:

“Like DeAndre Hopkins, both players should be defined by their talent, ball skills and consistency of production over pure speed numbers. Treadwell is at his best when he has a clean, two-­way go off the line of scrimmage and he could be a challenging size matchup from the slot. While Ole Miss used him underneath quite a bit, he runs quality downfield routes and has the ball skills needed to become a more vertical receiver than underneath, possession guy.”

But he did not come through when given opportunity to make go-up-and-get-it catches. With Diggs out against Baltimore, Treadwell stepped into the No. 2 role across from Thielen. To open the game, Keenum went deep to him one-on-one along the sideline. Cornerback Brandon Carr came away with an interception despite a solid throw from the QB. Treadwell caught just 2-of-9 passes that traveled more than 15 yards through the air.

If there is hope to still be held out, it’s that he doesn’t turn 23 until June. To put that in perspective, the Vikings drafted a receiver in 2017 who is over a year older than their 2016 first-round pick. Last offseason, Treadwell acknowledged that he is still learning the technical parts of the game.

“College, high school, pop warner league, I was always more talented than everyone or just had more will to win, I guess, and I got away with a lot of things,” he said in August. “Here, guys are just as talented and want to win just as bad as you. I just have taken the time to really focus on my technique. My talent is showing with the technique now, so I’m on the uprise.”

Even if there’s still ceiling left to reach, last offseason should be an indicator that the Vikings won’t sit around to find out if their young receiver will pan out. The Vikings chased Alshon Jeffery in free agency and drafted two receivers last year in Stacy Coley (seventh round) and Rodney Adams (fifth round), but they combined to catch one pass in purple this year. Adams, who was on the practice squad, signed with the Colts this offseason.

With other needs in the draft, it’s hard to see the Vikings spending another high pick on a receiver – especially when their last two first rounders haven’t worked out – but the Vikings will have plenty of options in free agency. Receivers like Seattle’s Paul Richardson, Chicago’s Kendall Wright and Atlanta’s Taylor Gabriel may offer the Vikings good options.

What can the Vikings do? Outside of trading Treadwell for a conditional draft pick, there isn’t any other direction than to see if he can take a step forward. Releasing him would mean carrying $5.2 million in dead money in 2018 and $2.5 million in 2019.

More likely than not, Treadwell will get a shot in camp to show improvement. If he does, it will only strengthen the Vikings’ arsenal of weapons. If not, a minimal role is likely.

The post What’s next for Laquon Treadwell? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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