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2023 Rookie Profile – Jayden Reed, WR

Michigan State's Jayden Reed turned scout's heads last week at the Senior Bowl. How does his game translate to the NFL?

Jayden Reed never seemed to fully realize his potential while at Michigan State, but he still had a good season and two solid seasons. Flashes of his big play potential were there, but the Spartans’ passing game didn’t do him many favors. Reed’s name garnered a ton of buzz last week at the Senior Bowl – what can we expect from the Draft process? 


  • College: Michigan State University
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 191 lbs. 
  • Age: 22 yrs. (April 28, 2000)
  • Year: Senior
  • Draft Projection: Early Day 3

College Career

Reed was a lightly recruited three-star WR, hailing from Aurora, IL, and garnered mostly MAC offers. He ultimately attended Western Michigan, coming to Kalamazoo in the class of 2018. 

During his sole season for the Broncos, he caught 56 passes for 797 yards and scored eight times. Reed showcased the ability to make huge catches and extend the field. The Broncos have a history of featuring wideouts, but Reed opted to transfer up the road about an hour to East Lansing. 

Reed’s sophomore season started with a bang, as he caught 11 balls for 128 yards and scored twice in his first game against Rutgers. That ended up being a third of his production as the Spartans worked Reed into their lineup more. 

Michigan State, led by Kenneth Walker III, had a great 2021 season, and Reed had his best season as the offense was much more potent. He caught 59 passes for 1,026 yards and ten TDs but also returned two punts for scores. Reed was one of the top returners in the Big Ten for 2020 and 2021. 

The 2022 season didn’t go well for Reed or the Spartans. They started hot but faltered badly down the stretch, and Reed’s number regressed. He had 55 receptions but only 636 yards and five scores, as his YPC tumbled in the anemic offense. 


Short-Area Quickness

During the Senior Bowl practices and then during the game, Reed’s quickness was on full display. He beats defenders off the line with quick moves and creates separation with quick moves within the route. Reed uses head fakes, hip movements, and then the footwork – it’s pretty sick. 

The nuanced route running is evident, and Reed is active all the way through the route – he never stops selling his route and trying to get open. Watching him run routes is fun and will help him at the next level. 

Strong Hands

I will attach a video showing the strong hands of Reed. He made countless catches over defensive backs and by stopping and snaring a back thrown behind him. I will point to his limitations later, but I was impressed by the number of catches he made on fades over defenders. 

Run After Catch Ability

After catching the ball, Reed is dangerous. Here, you see the moves that make him such a dangerous punt and kick returner. Reed doesn’t have elite speed, but he excels at setting up defenders so they are a little out of position, and then he can get by them. He was clocked just over 20 MPH last week, so he’s not a slouch. But Reed won’t be running by defensive backs, he’s going to use his moves – which rarely slow him much – to make big plays. 


Reed’s versatility will get him on the field as soon as he reaches camp. He can return kicks and punts, line up inside or inside, and be used as a weapon on running plays too. Reed is smaller but can take hits and uses angles to not take massive hits. Reed will be used right off the bat and has a developed enough game to see the field often. 


Lack of Elite Speed

Despite being clocked at over 20 MPH and having multiple long TDs at Michigan State, Reed doesn’t have elite speed. I pointed to how good his hands were and the plays over the defensive back’s head, but his lack of speed contributed. Reed didn’t blow by defensive backs often, even with his moves. A faster defensive back could catch up and make a long throw a contested catch. Of course, this can’t be taught, but it could hinder him a little bit, especially as an outside receiver. 

Limited Catch Radius

With his size, Reed doesn’t extend his arms often to make catches away from his body. He seems much more comfortable making a catch close to his body. Even on the contested catches, Reed’s strength was making the catch closer to his head and not extended. Once again, not a huge weakness, but it does hinder him some as a potential outside receiver. 

The Wrap Up

It’s tough to put aside personal feelings about a player when they play on your team, and the Spartans are mine. Reed came to East Lansing with high hopes and performed well, although it always felt like not enough. The offense and quarterback limitations were a big culprit, and Reed’s showing in Mobile was a good confirmation. 

Despite all this, in this class, I think Reed is an early third-day pick in the Draft. I am hopeful he gets second-day capital, but I believe round four is more realistic. I think his role is going to be more as a slot receiver who can occasionally line up outside, and his special teams ability will be used immediately. It may take a year or two for him to carve out a role, but I think Reed has the potential to be a team’s WR2 and a consistent WR3 producer for fantasy. 

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