Seven NFL Breakout Players Includes Packers Star

Jayden Reed had a big-time rookie season for the Packers. He could emerge as a No. 1 receiver and NFL star in 2024.
Jayden Reed after the Packers beat the Bears at Lambeau Field.
Jayden Reed after the Packers beat the Bears at Lambeau Field. / Wm. Glasheen/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Entering the 2024 NFL season, the Green Bay Packers don’t have an established No. 1 receiver. When they exit the season, will Jayden Reed have burst into that role?

Reed was one of seven players identified as a potential breakout player by The 33rd Team.

Dan Pizzuta noted how Reed was the team’s “best receiving option” when the offense “found its groove” during the second half of the season. Reed led the Packers with 64 receptions for 793 yards and 10 total touchdowns, and he was tied with Romeo Doubs for No. 1 with eight receiving touchdowns.

Reed broke Sterling Sharpe’s franchise record for most receptions by a rookie.

General manager Brian Gutekunst traded back twice in the second round last year before picking Reed at No. 50 overall. The sixth receiver selected, Reed ranked sixth in the draft class in receptions, fifth in yards, second in touchdowns and fourth with 2.05 yards per pass route. He led Green Bay’s receivers in catch rate (68.1 percent) and drop rate (4.5 percent).

In the process, he became the first rookie in NFL history with at least 60 receptions, 750 receiving yards, eight receiving touchdowns, 100 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Perhaps only the depth at the position will keep him from catching 100 passes this season.

“I always got higher standards for myself,” Reed said during Packers OTAs. “I want to go for 1,000 yards this year plus and have more catches. That’s just for me. That starts with me knowing the offense better and being in the right position. That can make a huge difference because I wouldn’t even feel like I was fully confident last year. So, I think that will make a big difference this year.”

Pizzuta provided a couple interesting stats.

One, Reed’s 361 yards from the slot on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield ranked No. 1 in the NFL.

Two, starting with Week 10, 116 receivers ran at least 100 routes. Reed was one of 12 to average more than 2.0 yards per route against man and zone coverage.

“He reminds me of a young Randall Cobb, but he’s, I think, better,” cornerback Jaire Alexander said, whispering the word “better” for emphasis. “He’s hungry. He’s hungry. When you’ve got a young guy coming in and hungry for the ball, they’re going to make their plays, and you see it.”

According to Pro Football Focus, Reed was seventh in receptions (44), third in yards (653) and second in touchdowns (seven) when aligned in the slot. According to PFF, 41 receivers were targeted at least 30 times while in the slot. Reed was 10th in yards per route (2.22), fifth in yards per catch (14.8) and eighth in passer rating when targeted (129.8).

“He does a lot,” quarterback Jordan Love said. “Just the explosive playmaker he is, he’s the guy that can win inside in the slot position for us and does a lot of really good things. Obviously, you see what happens when he gets the ball in his hands. Just the progression he’s made since when he got here and then, obviously, now he’s making even more strides.

“He’s a phenomenal player and, obviously, I think he’s going to have a bigger role this year.”

More Green Bay Packers News

Packers OTAs: No No. 1 receiver; no worries | Jordan Love under pressure | Greg Joseph’s big-kick historyBo Melton strikes again | Anders Carlson makes splash | Brotherhood and football for Reed, Wicks | Alex McGough’s position change

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Bill Huber


Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.