The Vikings have gotten shockingly little in return ever since they drafted Laquon Treadwell with the 23rd pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Treadwell, who starred at Mississippi, has caught 21 passes for 215 yards and no touchdowns in his two-year career, getting completely passed up and overshadowed by Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. But the Vikings aren't exactly giving up on him yet.
At the NFL combine on Thursday, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer spoke to reporters about what Treadwell needs to improve on in order to turn his career around. According to Zimmer, Treadwell has been sabotaging himself.
"Laquon needs to get out of his own way," Zimmer said, via NFL.com. "He's a guy that works extremely hard, probably doesn't do things the right way all of the time. We'll be in training camp and he'll run the stadium steps at night, which is not helping him for practice the next day.
"He thinks he's trying to get better, trying to get better, he's just going about it the wrong way. So he needs to get out of his own way."
That's not exactly a ringing endorsement of Treadwell's first couple of seasons. And he's not going to get one from the Vikings, who have every right to be disappointed with their decision to waste a first-round pick on him. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, however, was a bit more optimistic on Wednesday, though he hit the same notes as Zimmer.
"It's going to be a big year for him. Hoping to see that jump this year," Spielman said, via the Star Tribune."I know he does work extremely hard at it. He's a pleaser. He wants to do good. You just got to learn how to relax a little bit and not press so much -- enjoy playing. Don't put so much pressure on yourself."
When it came time to give him a compliment, Spielman focused on his lack of drops, which isn't saying much considering he's been targeted 38 times over two seasons.
"You see when he does get an opportunity, I don't think he's dropped a ball," Spielman said. "But also he doesn't have a lot of targets in a game."
The bottom line is that the Vikings have nothing to lose by hanging onto Treadwell, whose 2018 cap hit is set at just $2,709,539 while his dead cap is set at $5,870,671. So, he's not going anywhere. At the same time, the Vikings likely aren't expecting much out of him. With Diggs and Thielen's emergence, the Vikings should still feel confident about their receiver situation. The duo combined for 2,125 yard and 12 touchdowns in 2017. If Treadwell can take the next step and compliment those two, great. If he can't, they'll be fine without him.
The bigger lesson here is that the Vikings might want to stop drafting receivers in the first round. From Treadwell to Cordarrelle Patterson, it hasn't worked out well for them in recent years -- They have, however, managed to hit on receivers later in the process. Diggs was a fifth-round pick while Thielen went undrafted.