Dynasty Draft Profile: Laquon Treadwell
April 6, 2016 | Rich Hribar
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*Pro Day Measurables
*MSYD = % of Team Receiving Yardage
Laquon Treadwell has arguably become one of the more polarizing prospects of this draft class after appearing to be on cruise control to being the 1.01 pick in rookie drafts and a top-10 NFL Draft selection.
Both of those are still in play, but definitely don’t carry the same probability they had a few months ago before the last leg of the draft process.
Treadwell was a 5-star recruit and contributed immediately as a freshman alongside Donte Moncrief. Moncrief graduated that season and Treadwell took over as the main piece of the Ole Miss passing game and although he was productive as a sophomore, he didn’t make the dominant jump many expected. Through eight games in 2014, Treadwell had just two 100-yard receiving games, but was having his best game of the season with 10 receptions for 103 yards in the Rebels’ ninth game versus conference rival Auburn before disaster occurred.
Going in for a potential game winning score, Treadwell was tackled awkwardly from behind, suffering a broken fibula and a dislocated ankle as he missed the rest of the reason and a good portion of offseason conditioning.
Returning from injury this season, Treadwell started out of the gates slowly as he averaged just 74.8 receiving yards per game through five weeks with just one game in which he topped 80 yards. He also had just one lone touchdown reception. He then caught fire, averaging 6.9 receptions for 97.4 yards per game over the final eight weeks while catching 10 of the 20 touchdown passes Ole Miss scored on passes he didn’t throw himself, as he led the SEC in receiving yards and touchdowns in 2015.
Even with that final stretch of dominance, Treadwell is hardly bringing a blue chip production profile to the table for a receiver perceived to be a top option in his class. Probably the most damning part about his production is that he wasn’t ever significantly better than his surrounding environment at any point of his collegiate career like most high end receivers are. Here’s how Treadwell performed in comparison of his own offense and where he ranked nationally in terms of efficiency each year of his career.
*ReYD/TGT+ = Yards per target to a player versus a target to anyone else on the team
A target to Treadwell was never significantly worth more to his team than a target to anyone else in the offense. In fact, for his first two seasons, a target to him was on average a loss compared to the rest of the team. He was making steps forward in each season, so if he stayed in school for his 2016 season, we may have gotten the statistical stuffing we like to see from perceived elite receiving options, but he exits college with a questionable amount of counting production.
Things perk back up a bit when you consider his production while still only being 20 years old until this June. Only Jalin Marshall is younger than Treadwell in terms of draftable receivers in this class. When his production is stacked up against other 20-year old seasons from players that required high initial investment and have turned out to be great pros and fantasy options, things begin to take a different form as he climbs into the middle of the pack.
While Treadwell’s overall production can be massaged into not appearing to be that much of a hindrance in his future outlook considering age and expected draft capital, that’s not the only area of question with him. Treadwell also has a subpar athletic profile. Actually, subpar is putting that mildly as he ranks in the bottom third in percentile scores in every measurable category from all receivers to enter the league since 2001.
Even if you’re into composite scores for measurables as different events can mean different things for each archetype of player or desirable traits, there’s not anything here to be objectively excited about. I was anticipating a really poor outlook in terms of objective comparisons when adding his physical profile and final season production, but some interesting results came out.
Criner and Davis were never considered high end prospects by the league in terms of draft capital and neither sniffed tangible NFL opportunity. Reggie Williams was a top-10 selection and was able to have a reasonable NFL season in which he scored 10 touchdowns, but scored just eight total for the rest of his career.
Both Hopkins and Mike Williams turned in multiple top-20 scoring PPR seasons with Hopkins still going and now considered a top-5 Dynasty asset universally. Mike Williams even feels very right from a subjective on field comparison in my opinion and off the field issues may have gotten in the way of his NFL career that showed initial promise, but he also entered the league two years older than Treadwell is now.
These are just objective comparisons, though. Even though Hopkins was also a receiver who was a first round selection that compared physically and production wise to Treadwell entering the league, the two are vastly different players. Although Hopkins doesn’t show well in measured jumping drills, he’s one the best receivers in the league in contested catch situations, while Treadwell is far superior after the catch.
Still, for being a subpar athlete in terms of testing, Treadwell still managed to the lead arguably the nation’s most competitive conference in receiving, so don’t be completely fooled that he can’t play at the next level because he’s not Jim Thorpe.
Against high-end competition on the field, Treadwell actually makes things look borderline easy at times. As a boundary receiver, he’s an absolute bully. He excels in body control and ball adjustment on a number of types of throws on the sideline and naturally uses his frame to shield defenders within his route in both regards.
Treadwell is also ultra-comfortable in tracking the ball over his shoulder and making effortless receptions on those types of targets. He does mix in some drops along the way, but it’s not often they are technique or ability driven. He doesn’t have the above the rim type of game as a Hopkins type, but makes tougher boundary receptions look routine.
Treadwell can drive through contact when defenders attempt to re-route him and for a lack of an after burner, can still create vertical separation when defenders come to the line of scrimmage while finishing plays with his natural size.
As mentioned when discussing his comparisons, Treadwell is also really aggressive after the catch. In Matt Harmon’s game charting done for his Reception Perception data, only Corey Coleman forced more multiple missed tackles than Treadwell per opportunity. For a bigger player, Treadwell can win in small ways as well.
As you probably notice from the displayed plays, where Treadwell still really shines through despite his lack of measured athleticism is in one on one situations. He could end up being a player that can be negated by teams aggressively rolling zone coverage his way since he’s not often going to win or be a major threat to win with long speed regularly.
One other plus in his back pocket that doesn’t pertain to fantasy is that he’s a plus in the run game as a blocker. That doesn’t carry a lot of weight for us in fantasy, but it is something that should get him on the field early on and keep him there.
Early in the draft process, I was ready to dig a trench on Treadwell being the bar none top rookie selection, but early trenches can turn into graves if you refuse to come out of them when we have more clarity on the picture. My questions about Treadwell have never manifested to the point I believe he can’t play at all and he carries promising prospects such as size and age adjusted production against high caliber competition, it’s that now there’s highlighted potential for downside in the terms of an athletic floor that was/is not priced into his cost from the start. He’s just not a blue chip prospect. That’s okay in relation to his peers, because no receiver is in this class.
I have Treadwell, Josh Doctson and Corey Coleman all in contention to be the first receiver taken for rookie drafts and initial destination will be key in my assessment of their official ranking because none of them are squeaky clean. I’m not sold that any of the trio is a strong enough of a standalone talent to overcome (from a fantasy standpoint) a poor starting situation. There’s going to be a big difference for these guys in landing on a team like the Giants or Saints as opposed to the Rams or Vikings for me.
Right now I believe Doctson is the best player today, Coleman has the highest upside and Treadwell could see the most targets over his career over the group. In some ways, it may just be better to hold that 1.04 pick and have the choice be made for you or gives you the opportunity to hold a potential bargaining chip for a team looking to jump up and grab the last remaining player of the trio in fear of missing out on that tier. In the end, Treadwell could become a significant value if he slides past those opening four spots.