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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Q&A with draft analyst Dane Brugler on the top receiver prospects

By Andrew Krammer

Note: This is the final in a draft preview series of four interviews delving into the 2016 receiver class, one the Vikings are positioned to pick from this week. They were originally featured in last week’s Purple Podcast.

Q&A with Ohio State WRs coach on Braxton Miller and Michael Thomas
Q&A with Derek Sage, who offered WR Josh Doctson his first scholarship
Q&A with Ole Miss WRs coach on Laquon Treadwell

Draft analyst Dane Brugler, whose work can be found at CBS Sports and NFL Draft Scout, recently joined the Purple Podcast to discuss the 2016 receiver class and give his thoughts on where the Vikings should go with the 23rd-overall pick. Follow Dane on Twitter and make sure to check out his annual draft guide.

1500ESPN: I’m curious to get your thoughts on the class as a whole. We’ve recently seen the likes of Sammy Watkins, Odell Beckham Jr. and Amari Cooper come through the first round. There might not be a receiver taken in top of this year’s first round. Is this a good year to be looking for a No. 1 receiver?

DB: “I think we’ve been spoiled the last two years with the wide receiver classes. Just looking at this wide receiver group, it might not look as strong, but like I said I think we’ve been spoiled the last two years. This draft, to me at the wide receiver position, has very good depth. We might not have a wide receiver drafted top 20 this year, which is great news for a team like Minnesota picking at No. 23. I think there’s excellent value in the late first, early second to third round. A lot of talented receivers, a lot of different directions you can go. Between picks 20 and 60, we’re definitely going to see a run on these wide receivers. If you’re the Vikings and you’re picking at 23, I think you’re in a great spot if you’re looking at wide receiver. The only thing that would worry me is Houston is picking one spot ahead of you who could also go wide receiver. But I think there are a couple guys who could step in and help day one.”

1500ESPN: Speaking of the Houston Texans, you have them taking the first receiver of the draft in your latest mock at 22nd overall. Will Fuller, the Notre Dame playmaker, is a Texan, just before the Vikings take Laquon Treadwell at 23rd in your mock. Why do you have Fuller as the first receiver off the board?

DB: “Me personally, he’s my No. 7 wide receiver. I’m not as high on Will Fuller as others. But what Will Fuller can do as a vertical presence is really going to be appealing to NFL teams. Especially for a team like Houston, who has DeAndre Hopkins on one side. They could really use that vertical presence on the other. And you just brought in a quarterback in Brock Osweiler, who has a huge arm and can test the field vertically. With Will Fuller, his ability to track the ball deep and has that secondary burst, he’s a little bit of a one-trick pony, but he’s really good at that one trick. That’s why I think he has a chance to be one of the first receivers off the board. And I think he’d be a good fit for what Houston wants to do at pick 22.”

1500ESPN: To me, Fuller doesn’t seem like a fit for the Vikings. You mentioned arm strength with Brock Osweiler, and that hasn’t been Teddy Bridgewater’s strength so far in the NFL. Do you see Fuller as a fit in Minnesota?

DB: “Possibly, but I think there are much better directions they could go with this pick. I think Josh Doctson from TCU. Now, if Laquon Treadwell falls to pick 23, to me that’s a no brainer. What Laquon Treadwell brings to the field – he’s one of the top-10 talents in this year, in my opinion. He’s 6-2, 220 pounds and yes he ran a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash, but when you watch him on tape you start to realize how good of a player he is. When you jot down why, speed isn’t one of them. He’s able to win with his ball skills, catch radius, his physicality. This is a player who is only 20 years old, so he’ll continue to get better and better. What he did in the SEC this past year, leading the league in receiving categories, receptions, touchdowns – I think Laquon Treadwell translates very well to this game and reminds me very much of a lesser-dynamic version of Dez Bryant. He doesn’t have the same athleticism, but in terms of his ability at the catch point, that’s where I see a lot of Dez-like qualities.”

1500ESPN: Why shouldn’t teams be concerned about Treadwell’s 40 time?

DB: “Because I think he plays much faster than a 4.6 receiver in the 40-yard dash. He’s not going to be a player who consistently creates consistent separation. That’s not his game. But you just throw it within a couple feet of him, he’s going to find a way to go get it. It doesn’t matter if it’s above his head or at his shoelaces. He has strong hands to pluck away from his frame and he wants the ball more than a defensive back does. Because of those reasons, he’s more than just a possession target as well. He has a little bit of twitch after the catch, can turn and run up and down the field. He also provides a lot of value as a blocker. He’s probably one of the best blocking receivers we’ve seen over the last few years. A lot to like with Laquon Treadwell. Some teams will be scared off by the 40-yard dash, but when you watch him on film, the speed is certainly enough to get the job done. So I’m not too worried about the 4.6 40.

1500ESPN: Two other receivers who seem to fit the mold the Vikings need are TCU’s Josh Doctson and Ohio State’s Michael Thomas. You said Treadwell’s the top talent at receiver. Who’s the most polished of those three in terms of routes and nuances of the position?

DB: “If you’re looking for detailed, strategic route runner that’s Michael Thomas from Ohio State. Almost 6-3, 217 pounds. Not a burner. He’s a 4.57 40 type of athlete. But what he does with his footwork at the stem of the route, he’s able to create his own separation. He can get corners leaning and get them to commit their hips with different nuances and tempo as a route runner. So if that’s what you’re looking for, Thomas fits the bill. But Josh Doctson brings a little more big-play ability. His body control and tracking skills down the field are outstanding. Nothing against Trevone Boykin, but Josh Doctson has the ability to make inaccurate quarterbacks look really accurate. He’s that type of downfield presence. To me, I give Doctson the edge over Michael Thomas. Doctson didn’t run a full route tree at TCU as part of that offense, but I think he’ll continue to develop his routes. I’d have no problem taking Doctson over Thomas in that situation.”

1500ESPN: Thomas hasn’t received as much attention as the Big 12 guys or Treadwell. Was he limited by the offense at Ohio State?

DB: “There’s no question. Ohio State was a run-first offense in that spread attack and not to mention the issues at quarterback. Michael Thomas was still able to be productive over the last two years, he had over 54 catches each of the last two years and nine touchdowns as a sophomore and junior. Michael Thomas, I think, played above what that offense’s stats should say. I think he’s a player. He’s Keyshawn Johnson’s nephew. He’s a player who continued to progress and get better over his Ohio State career. I think he’s an ideal No. 2 receiver at the next level, because he has the savvy with his footwork and routes. He can be a reliable possession guys. So I think late first, early second round. That’s where his value is.”

1500ESPN: With Doctson, you said he’s capable of making inaccurate quarterbacks look really accurate. He posted top numbers at the combine, including a 41-inch vertical. Though this is the time of year to poke holes. What are the concerns you’d have with Doctson?

DB: “All of his experience has come in a spread offense, so he didn’t run the full route tree. That is an issue. He’s 6-2, but only 200 pounds. Doesn’t have the build you’d want, ideally, for a wide receiver. But his effort on throws that are anywhere in his zip code are tremendous. That catch radius, he just knows how to contort his body and find a way to finish catches. I think he has that resilient mentality you want. He also brings an extra element to the offense, not only as a downfield threat, but he can help you over the middle, he can help you in the flat. He can help at every level of the defense. Josh Doctson, to me, might not be a complete player yet, but I don’t think it’ll take him long to get there once he gets some NFL coaching under his belt and improves in a few areas.”

AK: You’ve got Doctson going No. 24 to the Bengals after the Vikings take Treadwell. Are those the two guys in Doctson and Treadwell that you consider for the Vikings at No. 23?

DB: “Yeah they are. To me, Treadwell is just the clear-cut receiver this year. If I have a chance to get him, especially in the 20s, I’m taking him. But I do like Josh Doctson quite a bit. Treadwell gets the edge, for me. But if Treadwell is off the board, Doctson is a really appealing player.”

1500ESPN: Before I let you go, Dane, who’s the best of the rest? If the Vikings decided to wait to address receiver, who are the guys they could target after the first round?

DB: “There’s a few different options depending on the type of receiver you want. Sterling Shepard from Oklahoma – he’s been nothing but productive over his career. His body control, his route savvy is fantastic. Not the biggest guy at 5-10, 195 pounds, but Shepard is a playmaker. But then you get into a few guys who don’t have the ideal speed, but they were productive in college and I think tape tells more about their football game than measurable. Pharoh Cooper from South Carolina is one of them. He reminds me a lot of a Randall Cobb-type talent. However you want to use him, put him in the backfield or line him up in the slot out wide. He can make plays. Rashard Higgins from Colorado State is also in that mix. Tyler Boyd from Pitt and Braxton Miller from Ohio State. All these guys bring something different to the table. They also have their warts. But overall I love the depth this year at the wide receiver position this year. I think all these guys can contribute and start in the league.”

The post Q&A with draft analyst Dane Brugler on the top receiver prospects appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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