Green Bay Packers

Jayden Reed Has Forced His Way Into Green Bay's Plans

Photo Credit: Wm. Glasheen-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers’ offense improved during the second half of the season, thanks mainly to many wide receivers on their young corps stepping up. But one young receiver stood out more than the others: Michigan State rookie Jayden Reed.

Christian Watson entered the season with the most hype but missed eight games due to injuries. Romeo Doubs also had a lot of hype. He performed well this year, finishing with 674 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

Rookies Dontayvion Wicks, Bo Melton, and Malik Heath made routine plays during the game but didn’t drive in crucial moments. But Reed always seemed to step up when the Packers needed him most.

During his junior year in East Lansing, Reed caught 10 touchdowns and had over 1,000 receiving yards. But he fell off a little bit during his senior season, only recording 636 yards and five touchdowns. When the Packers picked him up in the second round, there wasn’t much focus on him because of the excitement around Watson and Doubs. So, they took a chance on a kid who hadn’t proved much.

Reed caught 64 passes for 793 yards and 10 total touchdowns last year, which led the team.

He made big plays in critical moments against the New Orleans Saints in an 18-17 Week 3 victory:

The Vikings in a 33-10 Week 17 blowout when he became a deep threat in the middle of the field.

And the Bears in a 17-9 win in Week 18, when he used his separation ability and vision to gain yards after the catch.

Watson is the fastest receiver on the team, and Doubs probably has the best hands. But Reed’s physicality and attention to detail set him apart.

He runs surgical routes, using precise footwork to make space. He rarely ran the wrong route or was confused with where Jordan Love was looking, which is almost unheard of for any young player. It seemed that he never dropped any passes or made poor decisions with the ball in his hands. Reed was never afraid of getting physical with defensive backs to gain an extra yard or two. In the video below, he dragged Vikings safety Josh Metellus seven yards into the end zone.

There isn’t one specific thing that Reed does well, which allows Love and LaFleur to use him in myriad ways. In a modern spread scheme, you will want to be creative and find different ways to move the ball instead of being predictable with play styles. Like Davante Adams, Reed seems like the type of player you want to get the ball to as soon as possible. He has some speed and can juke defenders in the open field.

The Packers have used Reed on end-arounds and jet sweeps, and two of Reed’s 10 touchdowns were rushing scores.

Reed can also consistently make plays when Love shares the ball with other receivers. Adams was one of the few receivers Aaron Rodgers trusted. However, Jordan Love gets everyone involved. Still, Reed scored 10 touchdowns without being Love’s primary target.

Perhaps the lack of hype drove Reed to have such a productive season. People first started focusing on him after Green Bay’s 25-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2. Reed had two touchdown catches in that game. Perhaps that lack of attention may have motivated him. Considering everyone on the Packers’ receiving corps is young, Reed may have felt he needed to prove himself to the team and the fanbase.

Now that he has some hype around him, it will be interesting to see if he has a sophomore slump last year like Watson did this year or Adams did in 2015. Either way, if he continues to perform the way he did this past year, he will have a great career in Green Bay.

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