The Green Bay Packers’ 2023 draft class is set. The Packers made a whopping 13 picks in this year’s draft. In similar style to how I covered some of Green Bay’s potential prospects leading up to the draft, this short series will review some of the players I didn’t cover in the pre-draft process.
WR Jayden Reed, Michigan State
Reed was selected with the 50th overall pick in the second round after the Packers traded down twice, once with the Lions and once with the Buccaneers. Green Bay has historically had success with second-round receivers, including Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Christian Watson. These players, excluding Watson who appears to be a budding star himself, were crucial and long-standing components of the Packers’ WR corps throughout the last decade plus.
The 23-year-old Reed stands at 5’11 and weighs in at 187 lbs. He’s a relatively undersized receiver, making his selection a bit surprising as high as he went in the second round. Green Bay typically prefers bigger receivers. This is one component that separates him from previous successful Green Bay second-round selections at the position. He also performed average at best at the NFL combine, going against Green Bay’s philosophy of selecting athletes over technicians.
For a rookie, Reed is an experienced receiver. He played in over 30 games throughout his college career. However, he only posted a 1,000-yard season once in four years. If you go by draft analyst takes and their mock drafts, this was a reach for Green Bay. Generally, Reed was evaluated as a fourth or fifth-round prospect. Of course, none of this matters if he ends up working out for and contributing to the team.
A couple other things worth noting are that Reed played with a poor QB at Michigan State, and that he is also skilled and experienced in kick and punt returning. Reed averaged a solid 15.3 yards per punt return throughout his college career. This is a position Green Bay is in desperate need of.
- Concentration catches
- Catch adjustments
- Zone coverage awareness
- Route running
Reed’s excellent ability to track and highpoint the ball in the air makes him a great contested catch receiver, something you don’t see too often with someone his size. He has fantastic concentration and can make difficult catches even with little separation from the defender. His sudden footwork combined with proficient route running makes him a dangerous threat against zone coverage, which he seems to have a knack for identifying.
Reed is good at finding the soft spot in the zone coverage, getting into position and quickly turning his head to look for the ball. Though his athleticism and explosiveness doesn’t pop off the screen on film, he is truly a technically-sound receiver.
- Press coverage separation
Due to a lack of size, strength, and handwork, Reed sometimes struggles to separate from press and man coverage. A relatively bigger, stronger cornerback could give Reed trouble. Though I think Reed has the ability to play both outside and in the slot, this current lack of ability might force him to play primarily in the slot for Green Bay.
Reed doesn’t use his hands as much as he should when battling bigger corners on the outside. He doesn’t often show the initiative to swat the hands of sticky defenders away while working through his route.
Reed’s skillset fits nicely in the Packers’ offense. Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson fit better as outside receivers, and Reed naturally fits well in the slot role. He isn’t a poor athlete, but an average one – yet his superb technical ability and experience made up for it at the college level. Reed will be tested early in the NFL. Unless Green Bay adds another receiver via trade or free agency, there isn’t much reason why Reed shouldn’t win the third receiver job heading into the season.
If I’m being completely honest, I don’t think Reed shows much potential to be an absolute stud receiver. But, although the pick appears to be a reach to many, Reed certainly shows the ability to live up to a top 50 pick. I’m excited to see what he does in the offense with Jordan Love. I’m falling more in love with the fit with the team more than anything else.
Liam O’Donnell is a devoted Packers fan and an aspiring sportswriter from Milwaukee. He writes for PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @liamodonnell___.
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