Much attention has been paid to the weaknesses throughout the Buffalo Bills’ defense during the 2015 NFL season, but heading into the 2016 offseason the team will need to make upgrades along the offense as well. Under Greg Roman, wide receiver Sammy Watkins has emerged as a game-changer at the wide receiver position, but injuries suffered to Percy Harvin, Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods have exposed the lack of depth and sure talent the Bills have on their depth chart. Today, we’ll take a look at Ole Miss wide receiver LaQuon Treadwell, the premier player at his position in the 2016 NFL Draft and explore a potential pairing with Sammy Watkins within the Buffalo Bills’ offense.
LaQuon Treadwell Physical Traits/ Overview
LaQuon Treadwell looks the part of a prototypical “No. 1” receiver, standing 6’2” and weighing about 215 pounds. He’s got a well-built, muscular frame with long arms, big hands, and he knows how to utilize them.
Despite poor quarterback play in his first two years, Treadwell has been an impact player ever since he stepped on campus at Ole Miss, recording 72 catches, 608 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman in 2013. In 2014, he caught 48 passes for 632 yards and five touchdowns in nine games before suffering a broken fibula and dislocated ankle in a freak injury against Auburn.
Treadwell bounced back in 2015 with new quarterback Chad Kelly- a major upgrade over Bo Wallace- and caught 76 passes for 1,082 yards and eight touchdowns.
LaQuon Treadwell Route Running Ability
Treadwell isn’t going to blow the top off a secondary with his speed, as he’ll probably clock in around a 4.5 or 4.6 at the combine, but he’s a smooth, fluid athlete that doesn’t waste any steps. Ole Miss utilized Treadwell primarily on screens, go routes and in-breaking routes, so he’ll need to work on refining his route running at the next level, particularly on those with multiple breaks.
He makes up for his lack of long speed by using his long arms to separate himself from cornerbacks, positioning his body to box out defenders, all while displaying a knack for finding the holes in zone coverage.
Here against the Florida Gators, Treadwell is facing off-coverage. He streaks up the sideline until the safety bites down. Treadwell is on top of the safety and cuts inside, crossing the face of the cornerback. Going over the middle, he shows toughness to bring in the ball despite defenders coming at him from all angles. Even while being hit, Treadwell still looks to fight for the extra yard.
Here, Treadwell shows the savvy ability to use his arms in order to prevent the cornerback from jamming him. He sells the go route, before subtly pushing off, making the grab and getting downfield for extra yardage.
Treadwell will need to work on his release at the line of scrimmage, as he’ll stutter-step to set up the defender before getting off. In the NFL, that won’t fly, as cornerbacks are bigger and have better technique to jam him and disrupt the timing of the play.
Due to his limited route tree, he’ll also need to work on getting in and out of breaks quicker and paying attention to the little nuances that haven’t really hindered his production yet- particularly rounding off routes at the top of the stem.
LaQuon Treadwell Hands
LaQuon Treadwell is a natural hands catcher, consistently attacking the ball at its highest point without letting it get into his body.
He can pluck the ball out of the air while in stride and will make contested catches with defenders draped over him.
Treadwell knows how to position his body and box out cornerbacks to make contested catches, as he does here against Auburn.
He can run through contact, track the ball in the air and attack it at its highest point.
Treadwell has strong hands and great coordination as you can see in the following play. Running a go route against Auburn, he has the cornerback beat. Chad Kelly throws it up into the endzone and Treadwell tracks it perfectly, despite the defender holding him and catches the ball right in front of his face. The defender tries to swat it out as they fall to the ground, but Treadwell holds on for an incredible score.
There were times where Treadwell would have concentration lapses that resulted in drops, as he’d look to run and extend the play before securing the ball, but these didn’t appear to be an issue regarding his catching ability.
LaQuon Treadwell YAC/Run Blocking Skills
While Treadwell doesn’t have elite speed, he’s got great field vision, agility, toughness and some wiggle to him that allow him to routinely pick up extra yardage after the catch. He showed this ability numerous times on screen passes, where he’d maneuver through small areas and make defenders miss.
He’s got a good feel for where defenders are and he takes good angles, showing a nose for the end zone.
In the following play, Treadwell runs a quick hitch to the sticks on 3rd-and-2. The pocket collapses and Chad Kelly is forced out. Treadwell works back to Kelly and makes himself a bigger target and catches the pass behind the line of scrimmage. Upon making the catch, Treadwell spins to make the first defender miss, turning diagonally up the field, forcing three defenders to run into each other. He picks up the first down and fights for every yard as he’s shoved out of bounds. It’s a five-yard gain, but shows what type of player Treadwell is.
This physicality isn’t limited to when Treadwell has the ball in his hands, as he looks to impose his will on whoever is in his way, whenever he has the chance- particularly in the run game. Treadwell is an aggressive blocker, not only on runs to his side of the field, and he’ll sell his routes when he’s the “takeaway” man, tasked with bringing one or two defenders out of the play on a run by running deep.
In the following play, Treadwell blocks the cornerback downfield, before releasing and throwing a shoulder that de-cleats the oncoming linebacker.
Potential Fit with Buffalo Bills
LaQuon Treadwell is a complete receiver that can beat defenses in a variety of ways. He’s physical enough to win on the outside, while showing the agility, toughness and physicality to win over the middle. He’s got good size to him that would set him apart from the other receivers on Buffalo’s depth chart and would be an ideal complement to Sammy Watkins, who’s an incredible vertical threat.
He’s a ferocious and willing blocker, which is a necessity in Greg Roman’s run-first offense. It remains to be seen whether Treadwell will even be available when the Bills are on the clock in the 2016 NFL Draft, but if he is, the team will have a tough decision, despite the amount of draft capital they’ve invested at the position in the last three years. (1st, 1st, 4th- Sammy Watkins, 2nd- Robert Woods, 3rd, T.J. Graham, 3rd- Marquise Goodwin, 6th- Mike Williams, 7th- Dez Lewis)