Draft Daily: Laquon Treadwell, the Top Receiver

Does the Ole Miss wideout make sense for the Eagles?

Laquon Treadwell. (USA Today Sports)

Laquon Treadwell. (USA Today Sports)

Between now and the draft, we’ll zero in on one prospect a day with an Eagles slant. We’ve already covered Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Vernon Hargreaves, Paxton Lynch, Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa, Ronnie Stanley and DeForest Buckner. If you have a player you think should be covered, shoot us an email ([email protected]).

THE BACK STORY

How much should a 40-yard-dash time affect where a receiver is drafted? The answer to that question will go a long way in determining where Mississippi wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is selected, and whether he’s an option for the Eagles.

According to our consensus prospect rankings, Treadwell is tied for the eighth-best player in the draft. He has the record for most career receptions in Mississippi history, and he’s third in receiving yards and touchdowns.

Treadwell broke a myriad of single-season school records in 2015, including receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. He was also named a Walter Camp Second-Team All-American and was one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award that goes to the nation’s top receiver.

However, Treadwell didn’t run the 40 at the NFL Combine, and when he did at Mississippi’s Pro Day, he ran a 4.63. In Indianapolis, he said he hoped to run in the “low 4.5s,” but Treadwell missed his mark, and hurt his draft stock in the process.

“He might be a 20 to 32 guy now,” one NFL evaluator told the MMQB’s Robert Klemko. “Could’ve been a 10 to 20 guy if he ran in the mid 4.5s.”

However, others point to past receivers who ran slow 40 times and still had impressive NFL careers, including Anquan Boldin (4.71) and Jerry Rice (4.59).

A different NFL evaluator told Klemko: “He ran what people expected him to. It’s not a good time, but this is the kind of player where all you have to do is turn on the tape to understand that he plays faster than that.”

THE MEASURABLES

Before he even ran the 40, Treadwell faced criticism at the NFL Combine — both from teams and some media members — about not doing it in Indianapolis, while speculating about if he’d run a slow time.

The first seven questions Treadwell answered in Indianapolis had to do with the 40, which he took in stride.

“The questions, they don’t really bother me,” he said. “I still have to go out there and play and have the production on the field. I don’t let it get to me. I’ll run what I run and just stay confident in myself.”

In addition to the 40, Treadwell didn’t fare well in the broad jump, vertical jump or bench press. He does, however, have long arms, which he does a great job of taking advantage of.

THE NO-22

Say what you will about Treadwell’s 40 time and (lack of) speed, but one thing is undeniable: he catches almost everything that comes his way.

In the games I watched, my favorite catch of his was this 37-yard touchdown against New Mexico State.

Another one I liked was this 11-yard grab against Memphis.

Treadwell has a penchant for attacking the ball in the air and winning the 50-50 throws, and because of his length, he has a big catch radius.

He also made plays like this 24-yard touchdown against Alabama routinely.

One other attribute I liked on Treadwell’s tape was his competitiveness, which I think Dana Brugler of CBS Sports best sums up:

Plays with grown man strength to brush off tackle attempts and get every yard possible – rarely phased by initial tackler in college due to his balance and power. Has run-after-catch ability with his strength and athleticism, stretching screens into big gains. Won’t allow defenders to chase him out of bounds. Takes pride in his blocking, throwing his body and overwhelming defenders.

One good example of that is his 25-yard touchdown against Troy.

Although the big knock on Treadwell is his lack of top-end speed, scouts say he’s often able to create separation late in a route. ESPN pointed to this 14-yard back-shoulder touchdown catch against Alabama in 2014 as an example.

Another common criticism about Treadwell is how well he can create separation — at the beginning and end of a route — against quick, NFL-caliber cornerbacks.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Wide receiver is an underrated need for the Eagles. They have a good one in Jordan Matthews, but there isn’t much certainty behind him. I expect Nelson Agholor to noticeably improve this year, while Rueben Randle could do some damage during his one-year deal. Still, it’s fair to put a question mark on the position.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had an interest tidbit on this in his notebook this morning:

In talking to team sources in Philadelphia and to area scouts who know general manager Howie Roseman, there is a feeling the Eagles will look to draft at least one wide receiver. As one scout put it, [they] “have to clean up the mess Chip [Kelly] made at receiver.”

Although I think Treadwell will be a steal by the time he’s taken, I wouldn’t use the No. 8 pick on him. However, if the Eagles trade back to the middle or end of the first round, Treadwell is a guy to keep an eye on.