WR Jayden Reed fit in with Love and Packers offense ‘really fast’

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jayden Reed (11) pulls down a touchdown reception against New England Patriots cornerback Shaun Wade (26) during their preseason football game Saturday, August 19, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jayden Reed (11) pulls down a touchdown reception against New England Patriots cornerback Shaun Wade (26) during their preseason football game Saturday, August 19, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. /

Rookie wide receiver Jayden Reed has been working with the starting offense since he arrived in Green Bay, but his impact from the start of OTAs through the final training camp practice has steadily increased as he fit in rather quickly with Jordan Love and the rest of the Packers offense.

On Day 1 of practices during OTAs, Reed was lined up in the slot with the starting offense that featured Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs on the boundaries. We saw Samori Toure playing from there as well, but Reed was the clear first option and as the summer went on, Toure’s opportunities with the starters decreased.

Although Reed spent most of his career at Michigan State lined up out wide, one of the reasons that the Packers drafted him was because of his versatility to play both inside and out, his combination of speed and strength to win both outside and in, along with potentially being used on jet sweeps–something we saw this summer as well.

"“I actually like it,” said Reed about playing from the slot, “working with space, being able to attack guys, step on their toes and make a move. It’s really helping me out a lot to be able to work in space. I haven’t been able to do that in a long time and I’m enjoying it right now.”"

Like any first-year player, early on, you could see the learning curve that Reed was experiencing, not only with making the jump to the NFL, where the game is much faster, and learning a new playbook, but having to go up against cornerbacks like Kiesean Nixon, Jaire Alexander, and Rasul Douglas. With those three on the field together for the first time during minicamp back in May, it was a quiet few days for Reed.

However, as he got more reps and settled in, he consistently started to make more plays as the summer progressed. Throughout training camp, Reed was able to make an impact in just about every practice, and did so at all levels of the field. He knows how to create separation and has shown to be a willing blocker in the run game as well.

In the preseason, Reed’s seven targets from Jordan Love were tied with Luke Musgrave for the most on the team among the Packers regular starters. Reed caught four of those passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. It’s also worth mentioning that Reed did battle drops at times this summer. As good as he has looked, as Brian Gutekunst said, there is also still room to grow.

"“Jayden, again, played a lot of football in college,” said GM Brian Gutekunst last week. “He’s just very, very polished for a young player. Has a lot of room to grow as well. But I think, you guys have seen it, he’s able to play inside, able to play outside, for a guy who is not as typically big as we go after at wide receiver, he’s able to go up and make plays like a bigger man. He’s really done a nice job in all phases as a wide receiver but on special teams as well. He’s got a bright future ahead of him. A lot of room for growth but a bright future there.”"

Along with his versatility, Reed was very good in contested catch situations, leading the Big Ten in that category during the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Although a bit undersized compared to the type of big-bodied receivers the Packers typically target, his ability to make plays in tight coverage played a key role in giving Green Bay the confidence to select him.

Reed also brings more speed to this Packers offense. During the pre-draft process, Green Bay clocked Reed running a 4.37-second 40-yard dash, which, for some context, Christian Watson ran a 4.36. With that speed, Reed, of course, can win downfield – which we saw in practices this summer – but where he will really see a lot of targets this season is over the middle of the field. Attacking the middle of the field is a key element of the Matt LaFleur offense, and it will give Reed – and others – the opportunity to get the ball in space where there is yards after the catch (YAC) potential and hopefully some big plays that follow.

"“He’s got excellent hands,” added Gutekunst. “Body control. Balance. The ability to create separation on his own. He’s fast, he’s got very, very good speed. But for us, the one thing that kind of separated him was his ability to catch the contested ball. For 5’11” – 190, his ability to go up against big corners and take the ball away was unique for a guy his size, and certainly the special teams return ability and run after the catch was a factor as well.”"

While the Packers do have 2022 All-Pro Keisean Nixon as a return man, Reed could fill that role as well, whether that be on punt or kick returns. He had 43 kick return attempts in college and 37 punt return attempts, and looked incredibly natural doing both this summer.

During his short time in Green Bay, Reed has been able to regularly make plays in practice and has cemented himself into that third receiver role and the Packers’ top option from the slot. His experience in college, skill set, and ability to gel with Love and pick up the playbook have all contributed to his quick rise.

"“He competed every day,” said Gutekunst. “Fought through the little things players have to deal with and just made play after play. He really fit in with Jordan and the offense really fast, and that’s hard to do.”"