The Green Bay Packers are one move away from establishing an interesting trend — drafting playmakers early and placing them immediately into starting roles.
Green Bay threw wide receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs into the fire from the jump in 2022, and second-round rookie Jayden Reed is likely to follow the same path this season.
The difference is that if Reed wins the job over second-year wideout Samori Toure and any other competition he might face, he will catch passes from Jordan Love rather than Aaron Rodgers, which could impact significantly how successfully Reed begins his professional career.
Jayden Reed More Talented Option Than Samori Toure
Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report on Friday, May 19, predicted that Reed will win the position battle and become the Packers’ third wideout and starting slot receiver next season.
Christian Watson has shown flashes of star potential, but behind him isn’t much. Romeo Doubs demonstrated some potential last year when healthy — enough that he’s likely fairly firmly entrenched as the No. 2 receiver. But the Packers badly need another young wideout to step into the No. 3 role.
Enter second-round rookie Jayden Reed.
A 5’11”, 187-pounder out of Michigan State, Reed is undersized, but Bleacher Report’s Derrik Klassen talked up his wheels and ball skills while comparing him to Sterling Shepard.
That comp isn’t going to get Reed handed a starting spot, and the Packers have another young receiver in Samori Toure who impressed as a seventh-round pick last year. But the Packers need talent to win out, and while this competition could drag well into camp, Reed will eventually emerge as Green Bay’s Week 1 slot receiver.
Toure caught five passes for 82 yards and one touchdown during his rookie campaign in 2022. Reed produced a 1,000-yard season in 2021 and pulled down 26 receiving touchdowns over the course of his four-year collegiate career at Michigan State, per Football Reference.
Packers Will Look to Rookie Tight Ends to Produce in 2023
Another position battle in Green Bay that will involve young players and is almost certain to end with a rookie in a starting role is tight end.
The Packers drafted tight ends Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft in the second and third rounds, respectively, in 2023. The two rookies are listed as the top two options at the position on the team’s depth chart, per ESPN.
As the higher pick, Musgrave figures to have a slight edge to win the starting job, though the battle is likely to play out over the course of the summer. Both are expected to contribute either way, as Green Bay let both Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis walk in free agency this offseason.
Tonyan landed with the NFC North Division rival Chicago Bears, while Lewis remains unsigned. He was considered a candidate to join his long-time teammate Rodgers with the New York Jets, though Lewis said earlier this month he has no interest in playing in New York.