Surprise! The Green Bay Packers didn’t draft a receiver in the first round this year. However, they took Clemson’s Amari Rodgers in the third round. Sure, Rodgers is good, but they still could use another impact receiver.
Fortunately, Green Bay may have found a potential answer in San José State UDFA Bailey Gaither.
Going undrafted wasn’t the first time Gaither has been overlooked. He was a 0-star recruit coming out of Paso Robles high school despite putting up 3,277 receiving yards in three years on the varsity team. Not only did Gaither help on the receiving end, he also tallied 396 career rushing yards. He had four offers coming out of high school but chose to walk on to San José State.
Gaither spent six seasons with the Spartans. He redshirted his first year in 2015 and only had four receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown in 2016. A year later, he was finally thrust into a starting role and reeled in 22 receptions for 320 yards and three touchdowns.
Unfortunately, a torn Achilles disrupted his 2018 season, but he could return for two more years. He put up 812 receiving yards with six touchdowns two years ago and 725 receiving yards with four touchdowns as a grad student last season, averaging 17.7 yards per reception.
If you’ve heard of Gaither, it’s because of this unreal catch he made against Army:
Gaither used his intelligence and route-running, rather than speed, to take the top off of the defense. He posted a 4.45 40 at his pro day, which is good but not great. However, Gaither is very technical with his route running, and with six years of college football under his belt, he often knew the opposing defenses inside and out. He is a more seasoned player than most rookies, which should make him more pro-ready.
Davante Adams will demand attention from opposing defenses, taking pressure off other receivers. With Gaither’s deep knowledge of routes and defenses, he could get open while defenses focus on arguably the league’s best wide receiver. It’s almost a perfect situation for him.
Not only can Gaither take the top off defenses, but he can also handle screen passes. No other receiver on the Packers has much experience in that department, except for the recently drafted Rodgers. Adding two players who can take screens all over the field would be great for Green Bay’s offense.
Although Gaither can add a lot to Green Bay’s offense, there was a reason he went undrafted — his size. Gaither came in at 6’1”, 182 lbs. You would think we would have all moved past this size metric now, but many teams are still hung up on it. Even though we have seen smaller receivers like Tyreek Hill and Steve Smith thrive in the NFL, scouts are hellbent on bashing players for their stature.
As first-round pick Devonta Smith said:
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Another knock on Gaither has been his injury history. Given his size, it made every team shy away from him during the draft. However, he had just one major injury, and he was able to play for two more years after he sustained it, so this concern is unwarranted. It ultimately stems from the faulty premise that every smaller-framed player will be injury-prone.
With the Packers only selecting one third-round receiver in a deep draft, they need to find value in the UDFA market. Luckily, Gaither may be the hidden gem that every team is looking for after the draft.