During the 2022 NFL Draft process, you’re going to hear words like “explosive,” “versatile,” and “speed” regarding Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed. However, when you dig among the depths of the redshirt junior’s scouting report, what you’ll find is that there’s more to him than flashy gimmicks. Reed is a genuine diamond waiting to be uncovered in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Jayden Reed NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide receiver
- School: Michigan State
- Current Year: Redshirt junior
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 185 pounds
Jayden Reed Scouting Report
The 2022 NFL Draft wide receiver class is deeply talented. While it has received criticism compared to previous year’s classes, talent is abundant from the top down. While the two Ohio State receivers battle it out with Drake London and Treylon Burks for the WR1 crown, the likes of Jahan Dotson, Jalen Tolbert, and Zay Flowers are also highly thought of.
Those are names that you can readily and regularly find in NFL Draft discussions on your preferred social media of choice. However, one that isn’t regularly included within that debate is Reed. As I’ve put together his scouting report, it’s abundantly clear that he should be.
Reed possesses almost all the qualities that you look for in a wide receiver. With footwork and explosion, he can create separation in short-yardage areas. Additionally, he can take the top off a defense with his ability to win with releases, explosion, and deep speed.
His lateral agility and change of direction allow him to run crisp routes, turning on a dime effectively and efficiently.
Lateral agility, contact balance, and ability to conjure at the catch point
Reed showcases his lateral agility as a ball carrier too. He’s shown to have excellent cut-ability, whether as an after-the-catch threat or carrying the ball out of the backfield. Additionally, Reed’s displayed impressive contact balance. In the games studied, he routinely broke tackles for extra yardage.
At the catch point, Reed is impressive too. He has relatively reliable hands, and despite his frame, has shown the ability to compete in contested-catch situations. Furthermore, he has the body control and ball-tracking ability to react and respond to passes that are, how shall we put this kindly, not quite on the money.
An underrated aspect of WR evaluation is how a prospect blocks downfield. Here, Reed is also impressive. This is evident not just downfield — where he routinely seals off with correct angles — but also at the line of scrimmage, where he’s also willing to embrace contact.
Throw in his exceptional versatility as a returner and in-motion man, and Reed presents an impressive all-around NFL Draft prospect at the position. It would be no surprise to see him taken on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Areas for improvement
With explosiveness, speed, versatility, blocking ability, and impressive catch-point skills, you could be lulled into thinking that Reed is the perfect prospect. I’ve certainly allowed myself to indulge the exceptional elements of his scouting report. However, perfection rarely exists when evaluating NFL Draft prospects.
Reed is no unicorn in this regard. He does have areas for improvement and potential limiting factors.
At 6’0″ and 185 pounds, he doesn’t possess the most physical frame. While he has primarily overcome this at the college level, it could pose problems in the pros. Reed has won at the catch point with athleticism and body control alone for Michigan State. Will he be bullied a little more at the catch point at the next level?
Furthermore, there were several examples of Reed dropping the ball over the middle of the field in the games studied. Although he displayed reliable hands on the whole, if he cannot secure the ball on contact at the next level, that will pose an issue.
Jayden Reed Player Profile
Reed’s path to the 2022 NFL Draft has hardly been a linear one. Even in the modern age where the transfer portal is king for college football roster development, the Michigan State WR has seen his fair share of transition. Yet, at every turn, Reed has used the change of location to generate excitement and elevate his profile as a player.
It began with a high school transfer between his junior and senior seasons. At Metea Valley, Reed’s opportunities were limited. While some junior pass catchers post insane production, Reed had just 23 catches for 403 yards and 4 touchdowns during his junior campaign.
Reed commits to Western Michigan
As a result, he flew under the radar in the 2018 recruiting class. A three-star recruit, 247 Sports listed him as the 261st WR in the nation. College offers were few and far between, with multiple MAC schools his only options. From those four, he chose Western Michigan.
“I chose Western Michigan because I feel like it’s going to be a good fit,” Reed told NBC Sports. “I felt I could be a great fit in their offense. Western Michigan has a great coaching staff. I never thought I would be as comfortable with a coaching staff, but the WMU coaches really stood out.”
At the time of his commitment to Western Michigan, Reed was already getting comfortable with a new coaching staff. Following a family move, he transferred to Naperville Central. If he had any issues adjusting, he didn’t show it. Reed posted 1,179 yards at 20 yards per catch as a senior. Furthermore, he snagged 18 touchdowns.
His performances earned him Team MVP and Offensive Player of the Year honors. Additionally, he was named first-team All-State, USA TODAY All-Illinois, and All-Conference.
Reed’s college football career
Reed arrived at Western Michigan off the back of an incredible senior high school season and immediately impacted the college level. He snagged 121 yards and a touchdown in his debut against Syracuse. Two games later, against Delaware State, he showcased the punt return ability that is part of his versatility with a 93-yard punt return touchdown.
His freshman season was a highlight reel of epic proportions. In 13 appearances, he racked up four 100-plus-yard games. In an all-MAC matchup with Miami (OH), he snagged 4 touchdowns, matching a school record set by Greg Jennings. They accounted for half of his 8 touchdowns during his freshman season, a campaign where he earned FWAA Freshman All-American honors and was named second-team All-MAC.
Following his electric freshman season, Reed informed Western Michigan that he would be entering the transfer portal. He reached out to Michigan State, and the rest, as they say, is history. History may have played a hand in his transfer to the Spartans, with friend and high school teammate Payton Thorne already on the Michigan State roster.
It would be a while before the two would fully rekindle their on-field relationship, however. Due to NCAA regulations, Reed had to sit out the 2019 season. When he made it to the field as a redshirt sophomore in 2020, Thorne split time under center with Rocky Lombardi.
Emerging as a WR star for the Michigan State Spartans
As he had in his freshman season at Western Michigan, Reed made an immediate impact for the Spartans. In his Michigan State debut, he ripped apart the Rutgers secondary to the tune of 128 yards and 2 touchdowns. In doing so, he became the first Michigan State receiver to record over 100 receiving yards in a debut.
Further showcasing his versatility, Reed led the team in all-purpose yardage in 2020, despite being second in receiving yards. Although he only had 3 touchdowns for the year, over half of his touches resulted in either a first down or touchdown.
If Reed’s performances were impressive in 2020, his contributions in 2021 have been exceptional. His accomplishments through Week 10 of the season are too enumerate to list in full here.
However, he’s secured three 100-plus-yard games, the most in his career. Reed is also just the third player in Michigan State history — and first since the 1970s — to return 2 punts for touchdowns in one season.
Reed should receive Day 2 consideration in the 2022 NFL Draft
His 829 receiving yards at 18.4 yards per catch with 7 touchdowns have earned him mid-season All-American adoration from multiple outlets. While some of that is focused on his return ability, his place on the Biletnikoff Award watchlist tells you everything you need to know about his pass-catching prowess.
Yet, amid a Heisman-worthy campaign from running back Kenneth Walker III, Reed seems to have avoided the national spotlight. I have been guilty of it myself. In the first edition of my Pro Football Network Big Board, Reed was my No. 171 overall prospect. That puts him as a Day 3-caliber player. After conducting his scouting report, Reed shouldn’t be available at that point when the 2022 NFL Draft comes around in April.