Heading in to the 2023 NFL Draft, it was the annual occasion where Green Bay Packers fans get their hopes up for a 1st round wide receiver. It was also the annual occasion where they are let down when the Packers inevitably don’t pick a pass catcher right off the bat. They did eventually pick a receiver though, just 37 picks later, at 50th overall where they selected Jayden Reed out of Michigan State. With three games remaining in the season, Jayden Reed is putting up comparable numbers to that of a rookie receiver that may have been drafted in the first round. And also chasing the record of one of the greatest at the position to ever do it.
Sterling Sharpe was drafted by the Packers in the first round of the 1988 NFL draft, 7th overall. Sharpe is without a doubt one of the best wide receivers to ever wear a Packers jersey. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of fame in 2002, and in my opinion should easily be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But apparently putting up stats comparable to Jerry Rice, who many call the best receiver ever, before Sharpe’s career was cut short by injury, isn’t enough to get him in according to those voting. But I’ll rant about that later.
Sharpe came onto the scene in ’88 and had to endure a split season catching passes from either Don Majkowski or Randy Wright. Despite the QB carousel, Sharpe still led the team in receptions and receiving yards with 55 catches for 791 yards in his rookie season. With his 55 catches, Sterling Sharpe broke the franchise rookie receiver receptions record of 53, which was previously held by Billy Howton, who had set that record in 1952.
Sharpe would go on to have one of the best careers for a wide receiver in Green Bay. With his seven seasons in a Packers uniform, Sterling Sharpe still sits in the top 5 in all time franchise records for receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Could the latest hit in Packer’s receiver drafting history join him?
Here comes Jayden Reed
With three games remaining in the season, Jayden Reed is just one reception shy of Sterling Sharpe’s rookie record. Averaging at least 3-4 catches per game, if I were a betting man, I’d say Reed is poised to break Sterling Sharpe’s record, and then some.
The initial consensus around Jayden Reed’s selection in the draft was puzzling for some. At 5’11 187 pounds, he’s not exactly your prototypical big-time receiver. My own personal opinion was that I initially loved the pick. We already had Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs standing at 6’4 and 6’2 that could be our typical sideline receivers, so having a shorter speedy slot receiver in Reed, I felt could open up the middle of the field.
Well, in a way, I was right, and then some. Reed has been used as basically a Swiss army knife of sorts on offense, taking jet sweeps and reverses in the backfield as well as taking off on deep routes. And he’s done it all beautifully. It seems like every game this season when debating the offensive player of the game for my game recaps on CheeseheadTV, Jayden Reed is at least a runner-up, if not THE guy.
Clearly Reed will likely be the new rookie record holder, possibly even come Christmas morning. But we’re not stopping there, we’re looking for even more.
The Future is Bright
Looking at the tweet above, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Jayden Reed is in some pretty outstanding company with his rookie stat line. Tyreek Hill and Christian McCaffrey are the only two other players in NFL history to put up the rookie stats of 6+ receiving TDs, multiple 50+ yard receptions, 500+ receiving yards, 100+ rushing yards, and multiple rushing TDs.
If Jayden Reed can match the production of those two players, the Packers will have themselves one heck of a player. Pile on the rest of the Packers offense that has been showing a lot of progress and we could be looking at one scary offense in a few years.
Last but not least, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, hope you all have a great one and it starts out with a Packers win on Sunday. Go Pack Go.
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.