Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell finished with just one catch in his 2016 rookie season after being a first-round pick in last year’s draft. It was a perplexing development for a player with talent and a team with a need, but NFL growing pains are not uncommon.
Much of it seemed to boil down to Treadwell not gaining the trust of his coaches until late in the season, when injuries derailed the rest of his year.
In his postseason news conference, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer praised Treadwell’s work ethic and expressed confidence that the future is still bright. “I see too many good qualities from him to believe that he’s not going to be a good player,” Zimmer said.
I chatted by phone Friday with Treadwell, who is in Los Angeles signing trading cards on behalf of Panini America, for a Q&A that will run in Sunday’s paper. The conversation was most interesting when we talked about Zimmer and the wide receiver’s impression of his coach.
“He’s probably the toughest coach I’ve ever played for,” Treadwell said. “Zero tolerance. He expects greatness from you each and every day you come to work.”
As a player, do you like that and respect that from a coach?
“It’s hard not to respect it,” Treadwell said. “When you have someone who has that power preaching that to us, that’s what you want out of a coach. … You can’t lack confidence in yourself. And I do expect a lot from myself.”
The expressed mutual admiration between Zimmer and Treadwell is a good sign for the Vikings and their fans. It won’t mean anything if Treadwell doesn’t produce, but it could be a signal that Year 2 will be much different than Year 1 for the 21-year-old wideout.