Getty Images Laquon Treadwell

Trailing No. 3 Auburn by four points in the fourth quarter of a 2014 game, the best wide receiver on the No. 4 team in the country caught a third-down screen pass.

As he dashed 19 yards toward the end zone, an Auburn defender grabbed the back of his jersey, awkwardly contorting Laquon Treadwell backward.

What would've would been a game-winning touchdown for Ole Miss resulted in a fumble as Treadwell gruesomely broke his left fibula and ankle.

Laquon Treadwell

"Did you see it?" NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci, who coached Treadwell as a high school star at the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game, asked rhetorically. "It was awful."

As awful as that moment was, Treadwell's moment during the first round of the NFL Draft was just as uplifting.

His 3-year-old daughter, Madison, held his hand prior to high-fiving Roger Goodell on the main stage before the NFL commissioner unfurled Goodell's Vikings jersey.

That television highlight occurred in the auditorium of Chicago's Roosevelt University, and Treadwell grew up in Crete, Illinois, a south Chicago suburb.

"It really worked out for me," he said. "I feel blessed. I feel honored. I feel amazing. It's been a journey."

Laquon Treadwell

Treadwell's story has been lost amid the controversy of his teammates Laremy Tunsil and Robert Nkemdiche, whose character problems caused them to plummet in the draft. Also stealing headlines is the possibility of NCAA sanctions for Ole Miss because Tunsil may have violated rules by accepting cash.

Similarly, Treadwell, seemed to slip out of the minds of NFL teams, as three wide receivers -- including Corey Coleman at No. 15 to the Browns -- were selected before him, even though just days ago many considered him the best wide receiver in the draft by a large margin.

Did he feel slighted?

"Of course," he said. "I'm a competitor. You know, it hit me a little bit, I'm not going to lie."

Even though this draft did not match the epic receiver classes of the last two years, it was the first time in the modern era that a wide receiver was drafted in three consecutive picks, as Will Fuller went No. 21 to the Texans, Josh Doctson went No. 22 to the Redskins and Treadwell went No. 23 to the Vikings.

"I wanted to be the first one off the board. That's a goal growing up and that's kind of what you compete for," he said. "At the end of the day, we'll see what's next for each receiver."

Laquon Treadwell

That competitive fire is one of the 6-2, 221-pounder's best attributes. That helped fuel his production on the college level, as he recorded 1,785 yards and 16 touchdowns the last two seasons despite missing four games in 2014, following the horrific injury.

But he dropped in the draft because he ran a slow 40 time at his Ole Miss pro day.

"Don't worry about that 4.64 because he plays faster than that," Mariucci said. "His functional speed is better than that."

After all, many proponents of Treadwell have brought up that Jerry Rice, considered the best receiver of all time, ran a pedestrian time, rumored to be in the 4.6s before going on to a record-breaking NFL career.

"That's an old wives' tale," said Mariucci, who coached Rice. "If he ran at the Combine and trained like these guys do, he'd be a sub-4.5 guy."

Whether that story is true or not, a receiver doesn't need to be a burner to become a Pro Bowl-level receiver.

Treadwell has drawn comparisons to Anquan Boldin, another physical receiver with good hands and strong blocking skills, and the three-time Pro Bowler and 13-year veteran ran a 4.72 at the 2003 Combine.

Laquon Treadwell

Treadwell may have slid in the draft, but he ended up on an ascending team.

"I'm in the perfect spot," he said. "I (was) picked to the right organization."

The Vikings have a young, strong defense, which allowed the fifth fewest points in the league last year while winning the NFC North. Their weakness is a passing offense that ranked next to last in the NFL.

Now after drafting wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who had 720 yards as a rookie last year, Minnesota has added Treadwell to give third-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater another weapon.

Diggs and Treadwell have been in touch the past few weeks. And just after the Vikings selected him 23rd overall, Treadwell checked his phone and saw that Diggs had texted him: "Congrats, welcome to the family."

"That's a good relationship to have coming in," Treadwell said.

Similarly, the Ole Miss teammates have leaned on each other.

Laquon Treadwell

Nkemdiche broke his ankle a week before Treadwell suffered his season-ending injury. Because the duo's injuries required them to adopt a new means of transportation, they dubbed themselves the "Scooter Gang."

"Man, he's a beautiful soul," Nkdemiche said. "He's a great dude.

Nkemdiche was so excited when Treadwell got drafted that he got right in his face, interrupting a television interview.

"I hope I didn't get him in trouble," Nkdemiche said. "He's a great receiver. He's powerful. He blocks. He can catch. He can do anything you want from a receiving standpoint."

Nkemdiche was the last of three Ole Miss players to go when the Cardinals selected him at No. 29. The Rebels bonded in the green room while they waited their turn.

"You support them. We're all close to each other," Treadwell said. "We all sat there, looking at each other, just waiting and waiting and waiting. We finally got called."

But Treadwell has overcome greater adversity than having to sweat it out in an auditorium. And he said that he expects to be even better in 2016 with another year to get healthier and stronger, following that horrific 2014 injury.

"To come back from that … that tells you a lot about this kid," Mariucci said. "He's going to be a good player in this league."

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-- Follow Jeff Fedotin on Twitter @JFedotin.

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