Separated by one draft pick, second-year receivers Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell will forever be linked after getting taken by the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 2016 draft.
The two are close friends, connected through various pre-draft events, as well as the same trainer in Dallas. To this point in their young careers, though, neither has lived up to their first-round status.
Both have 13 catches in their career. Doctson, who had a pair of 1,000-yard seasons at TCU, caught two passes as a rookie before going on the shelf with an Achilles injury. Treadwell dealt with nagging injuries throughout his own rookie campaign and was limited to one catch in 80 offensive snaps.
Both have been healthier and more effective in Year 2, but are only on pace for about one and a half receptions per game, despite playing over 50 percent of their teams’ snaps.
Treadwell has proven useful as a blocker, at least, even though he only has 12 catches. He is also in an offense that features Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, making his effectiveness less of a necessity. Doctson, on the other hand, is on a team with a running back and a tight end leading the team in receiving yards. In five of his eight games, he has zero or one catch.
But Doctson has been more explosive than Treadwell in his finest moments. His first catch of the season was a contested 52-yard touchdown reception against Oakland, and his remarkable diving grab against Seattle last Sunday effectively clinched a win for the Redskins.
He has also made the most of his targets. Kirk Cousins has a 126.9 passer rating when throwing to Doctson, which is tied with Tyreek Hill for 11th in the NFL among receivers with 10 or more targets.
“I think from a statistical standpoint people are waiting for him to have the 10-catch for 200-yard performance and three touchdowns,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said after the team’s win against the Seahawks. “I think those days are coming.”
Treadwell did have a flashy moment in Week 6 against the Green Bay Packers when he made a one-handed catch for a 25-yard gain. But like Doctson, he has also been held to zero or one catch in five of eight games, and he has not done as well when targeted. Vikings passers have a 42.1 passer rating when aiming for Treadwell, which is seventh lowest in the league among receivers with 10 or more targets.
Both receivers, who are known for a physical style that helps them win 50-50 balls, have not broken away from defenses very often, making it tougher for quarterbacks to trust them with risky targets. Treadwell has 40 yards after catch this season; Doctson has 34. That’s between 3-4 yards after catch per reception. Top receivers get around 5-6.
Neither would be considered burners with Doctson running a 4.5 40-yard dash and Treadwell running a 4.64 at the combine. While hands don’t seem to be an issue for either one, consistent route running will have to be the next step for these two friends to take the next step in their careers.
As for Treadwell, he knows he still has a long way to go.
“I know I can do a lot more,” he said. “I pride myself on doing a lot more and blocking more and just doing more to help the team win. Grade, C. I know I can do better. A lot better. Looking forward to the second half.”