EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings have boosted their offense in more ways than one.
Minnesota selected Mississippi wide receiver Laquon Treadwell with the 23rd pick of the 2016 NFL Draft on Thursday night, getting a player who can not only make contested catches but who also helps out in the running game.
"A lot of the routes that we throw is exactly what Treadwell does," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. "One of the things we talked about was how we wanted to get a big receiver with a big catching radius.
"Honestly, this kid is a lot like how I'm trying to build this football team," Zimmer added. "He's a tough, physical player that's a heck of a competitor."
Treadwell, a junior listed at 6-foot-2 and 221 pounds, had 82 catches for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015.
The 20-year-old is the seventh wide receiver the Vikings have drafted in the first round in franchise history. The last was current Viking Cordarrelle Patterson in 2013.
"It's been a long journey to get to this point," Treadwell said. "I'm just honored to be a part of the Minnesota organization."
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah had projected Treadwell to the Vikings earlier this week.
"Laquon's a stud," Jeremiah said Wednesday. "You look at Minnesota and the need for a playmaker there for Teddy Bridgewater.
"Somebody with some size, especially down in the red zone, he can help you out," he added. "It's a perfect match for them."
Treadwell is Mississippi's all-time receptions leader with 202 catches and is third with 21 career touchdowns. He caught a pass in all 35 games in which he played.
Zimmer and Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said one element that stood out to them was Treadwell's aggressiveness in both the passing and running game.
The All-American wide receiver, ranked as NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock's top prospect at the position, garnered praise from Spielman and Zimmer on his run-blocking ability.
"I know Adrian Peterson is probably going to be very excited about how this guy plays the game and blocks at the edge," said Spielman, who is directing his 10th draft in Minnesota. "But he's a receiver who plays with a chip on his shoulder in all phases of the game."
Added Zimmer: "He is the best blocking receiver that I have ever seen. That was an added bonus with him."
Treadwell said his physical nature on the field stems from his time playing defense in high school.
"I played so many different positions that when I moved to receiver I just kind of naturally played with an aggressive edge," Treadwell said. "I'm willing to block and get physical with guys."
Treadwell had to overcome some adversity in college as he broke his fibula in 2014 and missed the final four games of his junior season.
The wide receiver admitted he had a slow start to his 2015 campaign but was in prime form by the end of the year. Treadwell's final college game was a Sugar Bowl victory in which he hauled in three touchdowns.
"We went back and watched him in every play he had in 2014," Spielman said. "He was probably a little rusty at the beginning of , and then you saw him start to get back to his form."
The Vikings visited with Treadwell at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine and his college Pro Day while also bringing him to Minnesota for a visit.
Treadwell had high praise for the Vikings and said he knows current wide receiver Stefon Diggs from their time in college.
"From the day I went to visit the Vikings … I knew it was a first-class organization," Treadwell said. "The men in that building really hold themselves to a high standard.
"I knew Stefon a bit … we kept in touch when I was going through this process," Treadwell added. "He just gave me some good words of advice."
Moments after getting drafted, Treadwell donned a purple Vikings hat and headed to the stage with his 3-year-old daughter, Madison.
"We felt that was our right guy and the guy we wanted to take," Spielman said. "We thought very highly of him, not only on the field but what he represents off the field."
If his college performance is any indication, Treadwell will fight right in with the Vikings.
"I like competitors. I like tough guys, I like physical guys," Zimmer said. "It's an attitude we're trying to present here with the Vikings and he's got that attitude."
Treadwell was one of four receivers tabbed Thursday night, joining Corey Coleman (Browns, 15), Will Fuller (Texans, 21) and Josh Doctson (Redskins, 22). Treadwell's selection after Fuller and Doctson marked the first time in the common draft era in which three receivers were taking with consecutive first-round picks.
There were six receivers drafted in the first round in 2015 and five in 2014. Here's a rundown of the wide receivers selected in the first round over the past two years:
4 Oakland Amari Cooper 72 catches 1,070 yards 6 touchdowns 16 games
7 Chicago Kevin White (missed entire 2015 season)
14 Miami DeVante Parker 26 catches 494 yards 3 touchdowns 15 games
20 Philadelphia Nelsom Agholor 23 catches 293 yards 1 touchdown 13 games
26 Baltimore Breshad Perriman (missed entire 2015 season)
29 Indianapolis Phillip Dorsett 18 catches 225 yards 1 touchdown 13 games
4 Buffalo Sammy Watkins 65 catches 982 yards 6 touchdowns 16 games
7 Tampa Bay Mike Evans 68 catches 1,051 yards 12 touchdowns 15 games
12 New York Giants Odell Beckham Jr. 91 catches 1,305 yards 12 touchdowns 12 games
20 New Orleans Brandin Cooks 53 catches 550 yards 3 touchdowns 10 games
28 Carolina Kelvin Benjamin 73 catches 1,008 yards 9 touchdowns 16 games