At Viking Update, we like to point out the inevitable comparisons before they become inevitable.
We found it difficult to find a way for the Minnesota Vikings to pass on wide receiver Laquon Treadwell in April’s draft if he was still on the board when the Vikings were on the clock, actually feeling a sense of sympathy for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Other teams could take wide receivers they viewed as a prime fit in their system ahead of Treadwell, but as the talent pool laid out, if Treadwell was there when the Vikings picked, they’d be foolish not to take him.
What the Vikings (and to a much greater extent, the Bengals) learned was that, on Draft Night 2016, wide receiver was going to take a back burner for much of the first round.
The first wide receiver to come off the board was Corey Coleman to the Browns at No. 15. The Browns traded out of their spot to allow the Eagles to draft Carson Wentz. Keep in mind that these were same hilarious dolts that brought us party hound Johnny Manziel and 72-year old rookie Brandon Weeden in the first round of previous drafts of recent vintage. They were understandably gun shy.
As the draft got to pick 21, the Vikings were two picks away from Treadwell and Cincinnati was three picks away from a complementary receiver to A.J. Green in light of his backup band (Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones) both skating away in free agency.
That’s where things got interesting.
Without warning, a trade was announced, getting everyone to hold their collective breath attempting to process who was taking Washington's spot to move into pick 21?
Somebody must be moving up to take Paxton Lynch?
Houston and Washington flip-flopped picks, with the Texans giving up a sixth-round pick next year for the privilege.
After the booing subsided, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that with the 21st selection in the NFL draft, the Houston Texans selected Will Fuller, wide receiver, Notre Dame.
The artist currently known as the Washington football team selected Josh Doctson at No. 22.
One can only imagine the curse words being uttered in the southern Ohio war room at this point.
The Bengals brass knew that Treadwell wasn’t coming to the Queen City.
Like it or not, as the Vikings ramp up their preparation for 2016, because four picks were made at wide receiver in the span of 10 selections – much less three in a row – the comparisons of Coleman, Fuller, Doctson and Treadwell are going to be a topic of discussion this year, next year, five years from now, 10 years from now, perhaps even 20 years from now.
As things currently stand, all four franchises that drafted wide receivers in mid-round flurry all believe they were the smartest guys in the room and landed the ideal wide receiver for their offensive schemes.
All four are claiming victory. Coleman is tearing up the Cleveland defense in practice, much like the majority of opponents do in the early Sunday games during the regular season. Tap the brakes.
Fuller is part of the “all-in” Houston experiment, where the red and blue Kool Aid is guzzled by the gallon by the fan base. The one known offensive commodity after the 2015 season was wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. When free agency began, the Texans made sure they addressed the revolving door at quarterback and the apparent death of their running game that accompanied Arian Foster’s Achilles tendon rolling midway up his calf. The Texans made a bold gambit on Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller.
Osweiler was a disgruntled employee in Denver. Peyton Manning enjoyed taking practice snaps. Osweiler finally got his chance to show what he could do when Manning completed 9 of 20 passes – five to his offensive teammates and four to Kansas City defensive players. Osweiler went 5-2 as a starter. He went back to the sidelines for the Super Bowl run.
Historically, featured backs in Houston run more than 20 times a game on a regular basis. In 61 career games, Miller has rushed more than 20 times once – Dec. 1, 2013 against the Jets, when he rushed 22 times for 72 yards and no touchdowns. In the 36 games since, he hasn’t had a chance to make amends.
For Houston, Fuller seems like the perfect “blow on the dice” sort of selection. He’s not being asked to be the main man. He’s being asked to be the guy who takes the heat off of DeAndre. Each dropped pass will be noted. The chemistry-set triplets were in place.
Whether you preferred Treadwell or Josh Doctson, those thinking the Vikings were taking a wide receiver were in a no-lose situation. Cincinnati prayed that one of them would still be available.
The Redskins burned that bridge by taking Doctson. Treadwell fell to the Vikings. Cincinnati watched in horror.
From our best estimate, it didn’t matter how many – if any – wideouts were gone when the Vikings made their pick. If Treadwell was there, he was the pick.
Years from now, the comparisons will be drawn with the benefit of hindsight. Coleman, Fuller, Doctson and Treadwell will be intrinsically linked. For better or worse, it is what it is.
[FOR RECENT VIDEOS, CLICK HERE]
Perhaps tonight the Vikings will opt to let Treadwell go face to face with Richard Sherman during his cameo appearance. Set the tone.
It may appear to mean nothing right now, but, considering the microscope will be on all four of them from now until their careers end and beyond, all four will be starting from the same point when games start counting next month and, like it or not, the comparisons between them will continue for years to come.
Did Cleveland make the right move? Should Treadwell have been long gone by the time the Vikings were on the clock? Only time will tell, but it will be a subject for debate that will follow all four teams and all four players for a long time.