Laquon Treadwell caught his first career pass for the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday. Moving forward, there is a case for the Vikings to involve Treadwell more.
The Minnesota Vikings have featured a bevy of wide receiver rotations. Stefon Diggs, Charles Johnson, Adam Thielen, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright have all seen starting time this season. The notable exclusion from the group: first round rookie Laquon Treadwell.
Laquon Treadwell vs. Charles Johnson
In eight games this season, Charles Johnson has had several opportunities as both a starter and role player consistently. He only has seven catches and 101 yards receiving. Johnson also has seven drops and has only caught 36.8 percent of passes targeted to him.
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Johnson is talented speed-wise, but he struggles to fight through contact at the line and at the end of deep routes. His other strength was consistency, but this season he has dropped just as many passes as he has caught.
Laquon Treadwell barely had opportunities in the preseason, and that carried over to the regular season. Yet, Treadwell has proven himself more reliable than Charles Johnson. Despite the microscopic sample size, Treadwell has caught 100 percent of his targets. He is also physically more capable than Johnson to both get open and catch contested balls.
Not playing has advantages. Stefon Diggs, for example, has been playing through injury, and he is not the same phenom that he was in the first three weeks of the season. At this stage in the season, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Cordarrelle Patterson aren’t looking forward to contact. Treadwell, on the other hand, is craving contact.
Aching defenders across the league won’t be able to handle Treadwell’s physical running style, and Treadwell’s fresh legs will boost him a couple extra inches on jump balls as well. It may seem minor, but his clean bill of health could provide the Minnesota Vikings with a youthful spark.
It seems that Pat Shurmur’s offense has turned a positive corner for the Minnesota Vikings. Still, at times the offense fell flat. Laquon Treadwell’s unique skill set could be the elixir for which this offense thirsts.
Treadwell is a prototypical wide receiver. He is taller, faster and stronger than opposing defensive backs. As an excellent route runner, Treadwell knows how to get open. On plays where he can’t get open, Treadwell can win one-on-one battles in the air. If he catches the ball in open space, Treadwell excells at running in the open field.
Stefon Diggs is a speedy, reliable route runner like Antonio Brown. Adam Thielen’s strength is his crafty ability to gain separation.
Cordarrelle Patterson is dangerous with the ball in his hands, but the offense really has to tailor plays for him. Downfield, Patterson has made huge improvements this year, but targeting him still seems to have about a 50-50 success rate.
Even if he isn’t starting, Laquon Treadwell offers a different playing style to compliment Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. In the red zone and on third down, Treadwell is a reliable big body that can help to keep the chains moving.
Now is the time to at least find out if Laquon Treadwell can boost this offense. He may be just the catalyst the Minnesota Vikings need to rise back to prominence in the NFC.