Former Ole Miss wide receiver taken by the Vikings at No. 23

CHICAGO, Ill. — Laquon Treadwell wasn’t the first wide receiver off the board in the first round of the NFL Draft.

He’s human. It stung a little bit.

But Treadwell still found a home, landing in Minnesota with the Vikings at No. 23 overall. He was drafted to be the No. 1 receiver for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and he’s thrilled for the opportunity.

“I’m a competitor,” he said. “It hit me a little bit, I’m not going to lie. But I just stayed positive because I knew a team was going to pick (me), so I just had to wait it out. I’m glad to be a part of this organization.”

Corey Coleman of Baylor was the first wide receiver drafted, taken at No. 15 by the Cleveland Browns. A run on wide receivers followed, with Treadwell the final of the trio — after Josh Doctson went to the Washington Redskins — to make his way from the green room to the stage to meet NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. 

His daughter joined him. He even put his Vikings hat on her head and let her hold the jersey. NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders interviewed her, asking three questions she simply answer with ‘Yeah.’ His mild disappoint didn’t take away from a moment he spent his entire life working for.

And the fit, with the Vikings, couldn’t have been better.

“It’s been a little overwhelming, but I know I just had to be patient with the whole process,” he said. “It was a lot, just seeing my daughter and being around my mom and being away from home for so long, and just knowing that it all worked out for me. I couldn’t be more grateful that this opportunity worked out for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve been home (in Chicago). Getting around my mom, my family, just meant a lot.

“I really didn’t have a team I wanted to land to. I just wanted to go early, but everything worked out and I think I’m in the perfect spot for myself.”

Treadwell finished his Ole Miss career as the most accomplished wide receiver in school history. He holds the record for most catches in a career (202), most catches per game in a career (5.77) and most receiver yards per game in a career (68.4).

He totaled 1,153 yards last season, the most ever by a Rebel, and the most touchdowns with 15. Treadwell was named a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, and he was a two-time All-American and All-SEC selection. Ole Miss was 10-3 last season, including a win over Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl.

“I actually waited until the actual last game to make up my mind whether or not I was going to come out, and my coaches and my mom just really gave me the comfort level to go ahead and come out,” he said. “I knew it was in Chicago, and just up until this point I was just training and trying to get ready, and look my best and do my best at every opportunity that I had. I made it here.”

Tread well was one of three Rebels taken in the first round. He was joined by Laremy Tunsil, who went to the Miami Dolphins at No. 13, and Robert Nkemdiche, who followed Treadwell in the 20s to the Arizona Cardinals at 29.

Tunsil was the story of the night, the former Ole Miss left tackle facing questions regarding the hacking of his social media accounts. Tunsil was long considered the presumptive No. 1 pick, but he slipped into the teens. Treadwell said he felt for his friend.

“Me, Robert and Laremy all sat close to each other and we just supported him,” he said. “Told him, ‘It’s alright. Things happen.’ I don’t know, I just couldn’t really put it to him where he could understand, but I knew he was going to be all right. I knew he would be picked by someone eventually and he’ll just be able to prove himself. I’ve seen that in his face. It looked like he wanted go to play when all of that came out. He was frustrated and picking up the phone and going through a bunch of different things.”

All in all, however, the night was successful for Ole Miss in that three of its players went in the first round, trailing only Ohio State. The Buckeyes had five first-round selections.

Never before had the Rebels had three first-rounders. Will it ever happen again?

“I think they’re recruiting well and they’re on the upcoming and uprise,” Treadwell said. “We put in a lot of work to try to change the program and just did everything we can to get this point. I think it’ll only increase, and there’s a lot of talent there now that I see going in that could really play from day 1. I just see our class all over again.”

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