Minnesota Vikings: What if Laquon Treadwell is a bust?

Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Laquon Treadwell (Mississippi) after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings as the number twenty-three overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Laquon Treadwell (Mississippi) after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings as the number twenty-three overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Minnesota Vikings drafted Laquon Treadwell in the hope that he can step right in and give Teddy Bridgewater a potent weapon, but what if they miscalculated?

The Vikings in 2015 had the NFL’s second-worst passing offense, producing just 183 yards-per-game through the air, a full 20 YPG fewer than the team ahead of them.

Some of the Vikings’ passing struggles were a product of poor blocking, some were a product of shaky quarterback play. Others might point the finger at offensive coordinator Norv Turner and his predictable playcalling.

One thing I think most folks can agree on is that the Vikings quite simply did not have enough weapons last year at wide receiver.

The Vikings’ best receiver in 2015 was rookie Stefon Diggs, who burst onto the scene early in the year and gave the passing game a much-needed kick in the pants before fizzling late.

Outside of Diggs, the Vikings’ receiver corps was a mediocre bunch in 2015.

Supposed #1 receiver Mike Wallace pretty much disappeared, finishing the season with just 473 yards on 39 catches. #3 receiver Jarius Wright did his job…as a #3 receiver. Would-be superstar Cordarrelle Patterson shone in the return game but once again proved that he is not close to being an NFL wide receiver.

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Charles Johnson, a player who rose up and performed in 2014, vanished back into obscurity in 2015 partly due to a broken rib.

After such a poor statistical year in the passing game, you knew changes would be in the offing for the Vikings receiver corps. Those changes began when Mike Wallace opted not to return on a re-structured contract, choosing to sign with the Baltimore Ravens and their “slinging” QB Joe Flacco.

With nothing brewing in free agency, the Vikings were left to address their glaring receiver issue in the draft. Months of speculation had the team pursuing any one of a number of college prospects, from Baylor’s Corey Coleman to TCU’s Josh Doctson to Notre Dame’s Will Fuller to Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell.

Experts argued endlessly (and at times obnoxiously) over the relative merits of each player. The only thing they could agree on was that there was no single consensus best receiver in the bunch. No Randy Moss. No Julio Jones. No. A.J. Green.

Though some creative mock drafters tried to argue that the Vikings should/would go away from the receiver position in the draft, most sensible folks agreed Minnesota had almost no choice but to go with a wide-out. When draft day rolled around the Vikings pulled the trigger at #23 overall and selected Laquon Treadwell out of Ole Miss.

Treadwell proceeded to immediately win over fans by taking the draft stage with his young daughter Madison, but as Mike Zimmer might say, that was where the feel-good story ended.

Fans won’t be feeling too good if Treadwell turns out to be a bust in 2016.

Make no mistake, the rookie is expected to produce right away for Minnesota. There will be no grace period for Treadwell as there was for Teddy Bridgewater two years ago, no redshirt season as there was for Trae Waynes last year.

Certainly there is reason to be optimistic about Treadwell’s chances. He has good size and more than enough speed. In college he demonstrated an ability to make tough catches. By all accounts he’s a hard worker with a great attitude.

Treadwell will need to call upon all his reserves of talent and determination right off the bat, because the Vikings need him to be a player on day one.

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The Vikings won’t be asking Treadwell to slowly master Norv Turner’s playbook in hopes of mixing him in slowly. They need him to learn the playbook quickly and be a big-time target for Teddy Bridgewater from the second they take the field against the Titans on Sept. 11.

That might be a lot of pressure to put on a rookie, but that’s just too bad. I hope Treadwell is cool under pressure. I hope he’s a quick study. I hope he really is as good as his admirers say.

If Treadwell isn’t all he’s supposedly cracked up to be? Then the Vikings will have almost no hope of improving their passing game in 2016.