Packers: A Look at UDFA Bailey Gaither & What he Adds to Offense

Oct 31, 2020; San Jose, California, USA; New Mexico Lobos cornerback Nic Wilson (26) defends against San Jose State Spartans wide receiver Bailey Gaither (84) during the second quarter at CEFCU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 31, 2020; San Jose, California, USA; New Mexico Lobos cornerback Nic Wilson (26) defends against San Jose State Spartans wide receiver Bailey Gaither (84) during the second quarter at CEFCU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

For all the talk that Aaron Rodgers needs more weapons, the Green Bay Packers do seem pretty well set at the receiver position. Rodgers’ top-3 targets from 2020, Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, and Marquez Valdez-Scantling, are all returning, along with the addition of third-round pick Amari Rodgers.

On top of that, Davin Funchess, who opted out of the 2020 season, will be back in the mix, as is Equanimeous St. Brown, Malik Taylor, and Reggie Begelton.

Even if Green Bay keeps six receivers, not everyone mentioned here is making the final roster—which will make it especially tough for UDFA Bailey Gaither from San Jose State to crack the final 53 in this congested position group. With that said, being a developmental player on the practice squad is certainly within reach, and considering that Rodgers is currently the only Packers’ receiver under contract for the 2022 season, a larger role for Gaither in 2022 is in play.

Gaither spent five years at San Jose State, and after seeing minimal action in 2016, he caught 58 percent of his 38 targets at 14.5 yards per catch and with four touchdowns the following year. Unfortunately, Gaither’s 2018 season was cut short with an Achilles injury. In four games that year, he was targeted 31 times, averaging a whopping 20.3 yards per catch with three touchdowns.

Coming back from injury in 2019, we saw Gaither put together his best season statistically. He caught 53 percent of his 98 targets at 15.6 yards per catch and with six touchdowns. Gaither was primarily a downfield target, with his average depth of target (ADOT) at 17.6 yards–one of the higher averages in college football that season. For his career, his ADOT was 16.2 yards.

In a shortened 2020 season due to COVID-19, Gaither was targeted 58 times over seven games, but we saw his efficiency as a pass-catcher greatly improve as he caught a career-high 70.7 percent of those passes at 17.7 yards per catch and with four touchdowns. After spending a majority of his 2017 and 2018 snaps in the slot, Gaither’s last two seasons at San Jose State were primarily spent on the boundary, where he was a home run threat for the Spartans–but having that ability to line up just about anywhere will benefit him in the Matt LaFleur offense.

It’s also worth noting that by PFF’s grading system ($$), Gaither was much improved as a run-blocker this past season–again, something that is a very important aspect of the LaFleur system.

From an athletic testing standpoint, that big-play ability that Gaither has displayed the last few years in college didn’t necessarily show up in his Pro-Day numbers. While his 4.48 40-yard dash time was solid, his overall RAS of 4.19 is considered to be below average among receivers. At 6’0″ – 188 pounds, he is a bit undersized, while his vertical, bench press, shuttle, and 3-cone testing numbers are all considered “poor” on the RAS scale.

For more on the San Jose State product and what kind of receiver the Green Bay Packers are getting, here is what two draft analysts had to say about his game:

Lance Zierlein –

"“Linear speedster with playmaking ability down the field and the potential to help on special teams. Gaither’s long strides serve him well when opening up to attack the third level, but they make him too gradual getting in and out of breaks underneath. His go routes and posts can roll downhill on the coverage if he’s allowed to get down the field untouched. The inability to create uncertainty as a route runner is an area that will need to be corrected, as he lacks the elite speed and functional physicality to make a living dealing with NFL cornerbacks as purely a deep-ball specialist. He has late-round potential and could find his way onto a practice squad.”"

Tony Pauline – Pro Football Network

"“Positives: Tall, surehanded receiver who watched his game take off last season. Comes back to the ball to make himself an available target, possesses natural pass-catching skills and extends to grab the throw away from his frame. Makes the difficult catch in a crowd, takes a pounding and holds onto the ball. Uses the sidelines well and shows good awareness.Negatives: One-speed receiver who lacks a deep burst. Minimally productive at SJSU until last season.Analysis: Gaither possesses next-level size and pass-catching skills and runs relatively well. Though he’s not a sure thing, he could surprise in camp this summer and make a roster as a fifth receiver.”"