NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If the Tennessee Titans remain at No. 15, one of the routes they may take is drafting the top wide receiver on their board.
Could that guy be Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell?
Treadwell has a real knack for getting open and could be a great resource for quarterback Marcus Mariota.
But he’s not a complete receiver prospect because he lacks top-flight speed.
Can a team that traded out of the No. 1 pick and still has one of the NFL’s worst rosters take a guy in the first round who doesn’t possess all the qualities a team would want in a top player at his position?
One personnel man told me he couldn’t think of a first-round comp for Treadwell. Anquan Boldin, whom many compare Treadwell to, was a second-rounder for Arizona in 2003. According to NFL Draft Scout, the 54th overall pick’s best pre-draft 40 was a 4.61.
“Treadwell’s speed is an issue that will make it hard for him to separate,” the personnel man told me.
ESPN.com’s scouting report says Treadwell’s “acceleration out of his break is just adequate” and that he “has below average top-end speed.”
Robert Klemko of The MMQB was at Ole Miss’ pro day and reported on Treadwell’s 4.63 time in the 40-yard dash.
Klemko put together a list of the 15 wide receivers drafted in the first 15 picks over the last 10 drafts, with their 40 times. And the only guy with a pre-draft 40 slower than 4.5 seconds was Mike Evans.
That doesn’t mean Treadwell won’t go in the top 16 of this draft. It does mean, as far as speed is concerned, he’d be an outlier.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, among first round receivers who ran at the combine (which Treadwell did not), only Hakeem Nicks had a time on par than Treadwell’s pro day time. Nicks also ran a 4.63.
But as Klemko points out, DeAndre Hopkins' 4.57 pushed him to No. 27, and the Texans got a star thanks to the time. Like his speed or not, Hopkins is an unquestioned No. 1 NFL wide receiver -- the sort of go-up-and-get-it wideout the Titans desperately need.
In a piece today for The Players' Tribune, Treadwell puts out a sales pitch for teams and writes about what he can bring, not what he won't:
"On draft night, when you’re looking for a playmaker, you’ll have to ask yourself: Do you want a guy who can read defenses to get open? That’s me. Do you want a guy who can move the chains? That’s me. Do you want a guy who will battle for every jump ball and every touchdown? That’s me."
The Titans also have an offensive coordinator now in Terry Robiskie, who Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff ranked as one of the best wide receiver coaches in the league during their time together with the Falcons.
Robiskie should be able to help develop receivers for the Titans, and that would include receivers who can’t necessarily run past defenders on a regular basis.
Dimitroff believes speed can be overemphasized when evaluating wide receivers in the draft.
“There are many players in this league that don’t have the ideal speed or the ideal height,” Dimitroff said. “We all use that as a benchmark. We understand how we want to have all those things that fit in and we can sell to our owner that we did the right job picking this player.
“If the guy is a football player, if the guy produces, if the guy is a playmaker, if he is explosive in his own way, if he’s going to disrupt a defense, then he has a place in this league. We’ve seen that with guys who don’t have to be 4.4s or 4.3s. They can separate properly, they can get open, they have the focus, they have the ability to grab the ball around their body and make plays. That’s the most important thing.”
The Titans won't only be measuring Treadwell against other wideouts. They have giant needs at right tackle and cornerback, and need pass-rush help. Do the available prospects at those spots have a more complete set of traits?