Hey Mel Kiper: LaQuon Treadwell is plenty fast

Laquon Treawell has plenty of attributes besides speed. (Photo by Joshua McCoy) Photo by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics
Laquon Treawell has plenty of attributes besides speed. (Photo by Joshua McCoy)

Rick Cleveland
Rick Cleveland

So, I read where draft nerd Mel Kiper has questions about Laquon Treadwell’s speed. Says he needs to run a fast 40-yard dash at the NFL combine to solidify his position as the top wide receiver in the draft.

Here’s my beef with that: That’s placing far too much emphasis on how fast a football player can run 40 yards without his uniform on and nobody hitting him.

There’s a huge difference between football speed and track speed. Treadwell is plenty fast and putting on football gear and getting bumped and held by defenders doesn’t slow him down much. He is fast and he can jump and he has the upper body strength of a linebacker. I don’t need a stopwatch to see that. It’s on tape, gobs of tape from the last three years of Ole Miss football.

There might be several receivers in this year’s draft who can run 40 yards a fraction of a second faster than Treadwell. That will not make them great NFL receivers. Treadwell will be a great NFL receiver.

Mississippians do not have to go far to see the folly of placing too much emphasis on straight-away track speed.

When Jerry Rice, the greatest receiver in the history of receivers, ran the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, he ran 4.68 and 4.72.

And, reportedly, for that reason he dropped all the way to being the third receiver taken in the draft. This was 1985 when anybody who had watched Rice play in college knew he had to be the best receiver in the country. (I voted him first for the Heisman Trophy because he was, in my mind, the best college football player that year. Doug Flutie won.)

The Jets took wide receiver Al Toon out of Wisconsin and the Bengals took wide receiver Eddie Brown out of Miami before the 49ers gratefully had the opportunity to draft Rice out of Mississippi Valley State and tiny Crawford.

Jerry Rice caught 1,549 NFL passes. Brown and Toon caught 880 combined.

And I’ll never forget what outspoken Valley coach Archie Cooley said when Rice’s slow 40 time was reported in the national press.

Said The Gunslinger: “That’s because nobody was chasing him.”

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