If he wasn't already, Laquon Treadwell has been served notice that there are professional athletes actively looking to take his job.
Minnesota drafted wide receivers Dillion Mitchell (Oregon) and Olabisi Johnson (Colorado State) in the seventh round of the NFL Draft, and both are already on record saying they are planning to compete for the third wide receiver job behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
“I feel like I have a great shot at being the third wide receiver for the team and help out as much as possible,’’ Mitchell said, whom the Vikings took 239th overall. “I know they have great guys, and I think the best duo in the league is Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, and even past guys with hall of famers Randy Moss and Cris Carter. I definitely know the history, and I want to continue that.’’
Johnson, the 247th overall pick, is entering the May 3-5 rookie minicamp with the same attitude.
"There’s always the opportunity to snatch that No. 3 job, whether I am a rookie or it’s one of the other guys," Johnson said. "It’s going to be fun to compete."
Treadwell, a first-round pick in 2016, finished his third NFL season with 35 receptions for 302 yards and one touchdown. Not impressive by any stretch of the imagination. But it was his best season yet and wide receivers often times don't really come into their own until their third or fourth seasons.
That could be the case with Treadwell, or maybe he just is who is he is. Regardless, Treadwell has three years under his belt and now gets a full offseason to learn offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski's playbook. That's a big edge on a couple of seventh-round picks who the Vikings view as developmental prospects.
"We took, you know, Dillion Mitchell and Olabisi Johnson, all those guys, our coaches and scouts did a tremendous job studying, trying to stack the bottom end of that board to go ahead and get guys that we think have the ability to develop and hopefully turn out for us," Spielman said Saturday.
On NFL Network Saturday night, ex-Bears wide receiver Curtis Conway chose Mitchell as a potential "diamond in the rough" for the Vikings, noting that he's able to run interior routes and has a knack for finding open spots in zone defenses.
He also appears to have an edge. Yahoo! Sports reports that Mitchell's decision to turn pro rather than return to Oregon was met with plenty of doubters, to which Mitchell tweeted April 13: "The whole world is going to eat their words."
Mitchell echoed those words after being selected 239th overall.
“I feel like I have a lot of areas that I can work on to become a greater player, but going to get the ball at the highest point and getting it by any means necessary,” Mitchell said, via Oregon Live. “I have a lot of people to prove wrong. I didn’t really know where I was going to go. I just was excited having a feeling of being drafted and having an opportunity.”
NFL.com's Lance Zierlein projected Johnson as a potential WR3 in the NFL, in addition to possibly helping immediately in the return game.
"His short-area footwork is solid, but he could really thrive as a big, zone-beater in space," Zierlein's draft profile of Johnson says. "Johnson's football character, intelligence and core special teams ability give him a chance to find work early and eventually become a dependable WR3."
But again, it's probably going to take a lot for Mitchell or Johnson to unseat Treadwell.
"We haven’t evaluated them on the practice field yet, so that evaluation part starts this weekend," Spielman said. “Both of them are very athletic. Dillon has explosive speed and playmaking ability. Olabisi is a very quick-twitched athlete for a bigger receiver that has excellent hands."
Other players with a chance to steal Treadwell's job are Brandon Zylstra, Chad Beebe, Jordan Taylor and Jeff Badet.