A recent report from Tony Pauline indicated that Laquon Treadwell‘s camp would be happy if ran the forty-yard dash in the 4.5 range, with the possibility that he’s slower than that. Considering Treadwell recently was selected as the number one overall pick in our rookie mock draft, this report made me cringe. As you may remember, I’ve been skeptical of Treadwell before, so this is just another straw on the back of a distressed camel.
As I continue to update my database and reflect on how Treadwell compares to wide receivers of recent draft classes, I noticed something very peculiar: Laquon Treadwell has a lot in common with Donte Moncrief. More than just their shared alma mater, the two players have remarkably similar résumés. How similar? Let’s dive into the numbers.
The Career Stats
One thing I like to do to get a feel for players is look at their final-season age and career stats. This gives me a starting point for comparisons. For Treadwell and Moncrief, they were both about 20.5 when they ended their college careers. As for their career stats, here is where things stood:
|WR||Rec||Rec Yds||Yds/Catch||TD||Games||Gms w/ TD|
While playing in the exact same number of games, the two accounted for almost identical yardage and touchdown totals. Moreover, they both scored touchdowns in 15 different games in their careers. Any marginal lead that Treadwell holds in counting stats is lost to Moncrief in the form of per-reception explosiveness. Bottom line is that they are strikingly similar in terms of raw production.
The Career Efficiency
Moving past counting stats to look at things in terms of market share and efficiency, here are their career results. The first four columns should look familiar to you, but the last two might not. The “% Yds / % Rec” metric is experimental, and basically answers the question, “For each percentage of their team’s receptions a player accumulates, what percentage of their team’s yardage do they accumulate?” In theory, this should be a 1:1 ratio and any fluctuation from that baseline indicates player (in)efficiency.
As for “yards / team attempt,” this is a metric borrowed from Football Outsiders which shows how many yards a player gains for every time their team throws a pass.1
|WR||Trgts||Yds/Tgt||MSrecYDS||MSrec||% Yds / % Rec||Yds / TmAtt|
In terms of efficiency, Moncrief bests Treadwell across the board. He was more efficient per target. He was more efficient with his receptions. He added more value to his team’s passing game on a per-attempt basis.
Unpacking this further, I should point out that sure-fire first-round picks2 like Amari Cooper (10.7) and Sammy Watkins (10.3) were more than two yards per target better than Treadwell for their careers. Sure, that doesn’t sound like a big number, but it’s HUGE over 275+ career targets. Also, it’s worth pointing out that Treadwell was mildly inefficient with his targets. For every one percent of his team’s receptions he caught, he only gained 0.93 percent of his team’s yards. Essentially, Treadwell wasn’t pulling his weight, despite his supposedly elite talent. For reference, Cooper’s career figure was 1.11 and Watkins’ was 1.09.
Yes, the margins are thin, but things should be coming into focus by now. Laquon Treadwell is being discussed as a top 10 overall pick, whereas his more efficient doppelganger, Donte Moncrief, was the 90th overall pick. Do you see the dilemma?
Plotting their careers against the trend line established by NFL receivers who have posted a WR1 type season3 we can see that their careers were very similar in terms of market share of receiving yards.
Moncrief was better at a young age and had the better peak season of the two. The main difference I see is that Treadwell’s best season was his last (more buzz) whereas Moncrief ended his career on a slight down note.
Not only was Moncrief slightly more efficient than Treadwell, but it’s almost certain that he is more athletic, and probably bigger. At the combine, Moncrief measured 6 feet 2 inches, 220 pounds and ran a 4.40 forty while posting elite leaping results and adequate-for-his-size agility. Treadwell is typically listed at 6 feet 2 inches, 210 pounds, with a chance that’s been inflated. And, based on the report in the intro, he’s almost certainly not as fast as Moncrief. As far as the other drills, Treadwell would do very well to match Moncrief.
Maybe I’m insane for comparing a likely top 10 pick to a receiver who went 90th overall two years ago, but after seeing the numbers, can you blame me? Is it that crazy to say these two are almost identical? Maybe Treadwell has some sort of nuanced skill set that makes the NFL respect him more than Moncrief, but I ask you, if those skills don’t translate into tangibly better on-field results, why do they matter? Beats me.
Ultimately, Laquon Treadwell is a very good NFL prospect, and Moncrief probably slid too far in a historically great receiver class, but I think we’re probably going a bit overboard to say that Treadwell is the slam dunk No. 1 receiver this year, or that he’ll undoubtedly be an immediate difference maker for an NFL team. As Donte Moncrief has shown, patience will be required, and success is not guaranteed.
- Any pass, not just to the focus player. (back)
- who were also 20 years old in their final college season (back)
- Defined as 150 standard-format fantasy points. Recently updated to include the 2015 NFL seasons, which made the line slightly steeper and improved the r-squared of the existing trend line. (back)