Bulk of early practice reps for Packers WR Jayden Reed coming from slot
One of the reasons the Green Bay Packers drafted Jayden Reed in the second round of the 2023 draft was his versatility. But not surprisingly, the rookie receiver has taken most of his snaps from the slot to begin OTAs.
“A lot of slot and a little bit of outside,” said Reed following Tuesday’s practice. “It’s kind of similar to college, but I’m primarily in the slot now, so it’s different. I like working in space, and I’ll fit in the NFL playing in the slot but also rotating outside.”
Following the selection of Reed, Packers Vice President of Player Personnel Jon-Eric Sullivan spoke with the media and discussed the versatility that Reed brings. Sullivan said that he has the speed to play outside, with the Packers clocking him at 4.37 during the pre-draft process, but also the strength to line up from the slot. Sullivan also added that Reed could be used on jet sweeps and pointed out his experience as a return man as well.
Reed had nearly a 50/50 split during his college career of time spent in the slot and time spent on the boundary. And while he will see snaps outside, it’s not surprising that most of his time up to this point has come from the slot.
As offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich said last week when meeting with reporters, the coaching staff has to be mindful of what they put on the plates of their young pass catchers initially. Although Reed has the skill set to take on a variety of roles, he first has to become comfortable playing from the slot before being given more responsibilities.
The Packers are also in their early installs of the offense this offseason. While it’s important for the Green Bay pass-catchers to be able to move around the formation, playing both inside and out, Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs are more boundary targets than anything else. So as receivers one and two on this team, and with the offense laying the foundation at this point in the offseason, the slot is where there is an opening at the moment. Watson, Doubs, and Reed will all see a mixture of slot and boundary snaps as the season progresses, but at this point, it’s about building upon the basics of the offense.
Given Reed’s frame at 5-11 and 187 pounds, more of his playing time could end up coming inside rather than out, especially playing alongside Watson and Doubs, unlike than the near 50/50 split we saw from him at Michigan State.
Lining up in the slot will give Reed a clean release at the line of scrimmage, allowing his speed to put the defender in a bind. With more space to operate within, there will be YAC opportunities, along with Reed potentially being a go-to target for Jordan Love in the quick passing game and over the middle.
Along with Reed, second-year wide receiver Samori Toure has also been rotating in and taking snaps with the first-team offense as well.
Of course, it is still very early in the process, but in Reed’s short time with the Packers, he has caught the attention of the coaching staff, both with his speed and play on the field, but also his mentality off of it.
“I’ve had just about every coach come up to me, on our staff, and be like, ‘Holy wow. That guy is twitchy, fast and explosive.’ He has all those traits,” said wide receivers coach Jason Vrable last week. “You could see it on the college tape. Toss him a ball and he’s gonna go make a play. But probably the more impressive thing is just his mentality. I told him the other day, I said, ‘You remind me of Randall (Cobb). You really do. You’re laser-focused. Your love for football. The other day, I was just thrilled for him. I said, ‘You really love ball, don’t you?’ He’s like, ‘This is everything, Coach.’ There’s something about guys who end up being successful that have that inner drive. When he walks into the building, his eyes are like all ball.”