By Eric Goska
|(photo by Eric Goska)|
Jayden Reed is not 30 years old. He’s 23, but the talented rookie does have a connection to the larger number in this, his first season with the Packers.
Green Bay selected Reed in the second round (50th overall) of last April’s draft. The decision to partner with the 5-foot-11 receiver occurred on Reed’s birthday.
Seven months later, the Western Michigan and Michigan State product has made his presence known. Reed leads the Packers in receiving yards (497) and is second in receptions (36) and receiving TDs (5) behind Romeo Doubs (41; 7).
Reed, one of the youngsters who populates Green Bay’s roster, has received his share of attention. Against the Lions on Thanksgiving, Reed (4 catches for 34 yards) paced a rookie class that has caught more passes (107) than any other in team history.
Some of Reed’s accomplishments have been documented in the Packers Dope Sheet, a packet of information made available to the media and fans before each game. It is from this sheet that our story begins.
As noted in the Dope Sheet (see below), Reed has snagged a fair number of catches that have carried for 30 yards or more. His seven this season, according to the Packers, are the most by a Green Bay rookie since 2000.
Before proceeding, one error must be addressed. Greg Jennings did not have five receptions of 30-plus yards as a rookie in 2006. He had four. The Packers mistakenly gave him credit for a 42-yarder against the Vikings on Nov. 12. On that play, Brett Favre passed to Jennings for 12 who then lateraled to Donald Driver for 30 more. A sizable gain, but not a 30-yarder for Jennings as only a dozen yards were added to his receiving total.
|Greg Jennings did not have 5 receptions of 30+ yards as a rookie.|
With Jennings out of the picture, that leaves Reed and Marquez Valdes-Scantling as the only Packers this century to have recorded more than four 30-yarders as rookies. That says something.
Why the cutoff at 2000? We can’t answer that, but at Pro Football Journal, we open the floor to all players, even those who did not wear facemasks or helmets. We want to know how Reed’s numbers stack up against every rookie who suited up for the Green and Gold, not just those in the last 23 years.
And if Reed tops the list after that, more power to him.
Reed’s long gains have measured 30, 30, 44, 31, 34, 35 and 46 yards. His first catch as a pro went for 30 at Chicago in the opener. His 30-yarder against the Saints set up the go-ahead TD in Green Bay’s amazing fourth-quarter comeback.
His longest advance put the Packers in scoring territory with under a minute remaining in Pittsburgh. That Jordan Love was intercepted on the game’s last play doesn’t diminish Reed’s contribution.
That 46-yarder, his seventh of 30-plus, was Reed’s 28th catch of 2023. In the last 100-plus years, how many Packers rookies counted seven such gains among their first 28 receptions?
The answer is zero. And that says even more about Reed’s inaugural campaign.
Some notable rookies could not come up with even one such catch. Antonio Freeman (8 catches) and Jordy Nelson (33) never got out of the twenties. Donald Driver (3) had a long of 12.
Reed stands alone. His seven is one ahead of Bill Howton who had six after his first 28 receptions in 1952.
Howton, however, was not done. The Texan piled up 53 catches for 1,231 yards and 13 TDs in 12 games, totals which included a dozen catches of 30-plus yards.
Reed needs six more to best Howton. And if those half dozen were to materialize among his next 16 receptions – an unlikely prospect – he would not only snap Howton’s record, he would do so having made one fewer catch.
Most receptions of 30-plus yards by a Packers player in his first 28 catches as a rookie.
No. Receiver Year
7 Jayden Reed 2023
6 Bill Howton 1952
5 Don Hutson* 1935
5 Max McGee 1954
5 Boyd Dowler 1959
5 Marquez Valdes-Scantling 2018
*Hutson had 18 catches as a rookie.