After choosing not to sign a veteran receiver in the 2023 off-season, Green Bay went heavy in the draft to find young playmakers. The plan was to build a young nucleus of playmakers for Jordan Love to grow with over the years. By adding talent at tight end and receiver in recent drafts, the Green Bay Packers have taken the long road.
Gone are reliable veterans like Alan Lazard, Randal Cobb, and Robert Tunyan. The departure of those big three meant that Green Bay would be entering the 2023 season with major holes on offense.
A quick fix would have been signing a receiver like Odell Beckham Jr. to a massive contract, or going after a receiver like Tee Higgins or Hunter Renfrow at the 2023 NFL trade deadline. But, by not doing either of those things, the Packers have shown they are at least confident in the nucleus they have on hand.
What they have on hand now is a group of young weapons that offer different skill sets for Love to maximize.
A Second-Round Stud
Jayden Reed, who is second on the team in targets, has become the Packers leading receiver through nine games. Reed was not considered a top-ten receiver prospect by many media outlets but has produced the seventh-most receiving yards by rookie receivers (per ESPN stats). He has also received the fifth-most targets among rookie receivers.
At times, Reed has looked like the best receiver on the field for Green Bay. The second-round pick out of Michigan State has also come up with crucial catches in clutch moments for the Packers. Through nine weeks, the rookie ranks tied with Tyreek Hill for the second-most catches of 30-plus yards. Reed has been most effective late in games, earning his highest amount of receptions and yards in the 4th quarter (per ESPN stats).
While Watson and Doubs have had their moments, neither has become the sort of reliable, big-play receiver that the Packers were looking for during the draft. Reed, while considered more of a possession receiver in college, has offered a big boost to a passing offense that has struggled at times. He is also Love’s go-to target on first down, with 14 of his 28 receptions coming on first down.
The Late-Round Find
Unlike Reed, Wicks was known for his big-play ability in college. But through nine games, the fifth-round pick out of Virginia has earned his keep during crunch time. Of Wicks’ 17 receptions, 12 have come in the 3rd and 4th quarters of games. The Packers offense as a whole has suffered from slow starts, which has contributed to higher numbers for all of the receivers in the second half of games.
But Love has shown, time and time again, that he’s not afraid to test Reed and Wicks in crucial situations. The chemistry growing between Love and these rookies gives optimism that the Packers might just have found their future 1-2 punch at receiver.
Offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich also seems to think so.
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