The Reese’s Senior Bowl is an important step for any NFL prospect. The fact that this event brings in some of the nation’s best college football talent to one location is enough. But to shine against this talent is another.
Many a player has bumped his draft stock up a round with a great practice week at this prestigious All-Star game. Then again, quite a few have dropped a round or two with a poor showing.
QB Joe Flacco was projected as a low second-round pick in 2008 when he accepted a Senior Bowl invite. After a tremendous week plus being named the game’s MVP, he was taken in the first round by Baltimore with the 18th pick. Safety Kyle Dugger played in the 2020 Senior Bowl from tiny Lenoir-Rhyne and was supposed to be taken in the fifth round. He lit up practices and dominated every receiver much less his hitting was on full display. New England then took him with the fifth pick in the second round, #37 overall.
This will also be the end story about Jayden Reed, perhaps the Cleveland Browns will look his way.
Before Senior Bowl week, Reed was projected as a fourth-round selection. Now, good luck finding him past the middle of the second round. The reason his stock was so low is that in college, Michigan State did not feature him in the passing game. In fact, they had a minimal passing game and simply ran the ball on most downs.
So when you glance at his stats as a senior and see only 636 yards with just five TDs, you can see why his draft status is so low. Then when you see his impeccable route running and how defensive backs are afraid to cover him so that they don’t end up on a “c’mon man!” highlight reel, you can’t but wonder, what would he look like in an orange helmet?
And here’s a plus: he returned kickoffs and punts in college. He had 42 kickoff returns in four years with 841 yards with a 20.0 average per return. Reed returned 38 punts for 581 yards, three touchdowns and a 15.3 yards per return average.
WR Jayden Reed – Michigan State
6’-0”, 185 pounds
Projected round: 2
Browns pick #43
DBN: These first few days you have really shined. What is your best traits?
Reed: My versatility. That is a part of my game since high school. Special teams, return man, inside, outside, XYZ, slot, anything they want me to play I can go out there and do it.
DBN: What do you offer an NFL team?
Reed: You don’t have to question my effort. When I am out there I am going to go 100% all the time. I am very coachable and I am a team player – I want to win.
DBN: Who are some NFL players you like today?
Reed: Kadarius Toney. Real twitchy, real quick. I think I implement that in my game. Also Tyreek Hill in taking the top off the defense. I feel I can do that as well. Stefon Diggs is one of my favorites too, a definite playmaker.
DBN: Do you watch a lot of film?
Reed: I do. I like to break down my opponents when I am prepping for a game. I like to watch the DBs that I am going against. Watch his clips, watch his targets. Look at the overall defense and what I got to adjust to.
DBN: What techniques do you use to gain separation?
Reed: I feel I have top-end speed, and take advantage of the first rep to see how the DB reacts. I then work in space for sure.
DBN: Here this week have you been trying to get comfortable in every wide receiver spot?
Reed: Honestly, yes. I’ve been running routes from the inside to the outside. In college, I was primarily an outside guy. But I think the scouts want to see me play different positions. I’ve been trying to work on everything to show what I can do.
DBN: Here at the Senior Bowl you have to absorb an offense pretty quickly. Does this provide any complications for you, or do you get into an offensive scheme within reason?
Reed: For this game, they are keeping it pretty bland. We basically have 48 hours to get this offense. I pick up on stuff pretty quickly. Just getting the formations and knowing where to be on every play and where to line up.
DBN: What will scouts say about you once they go and make their evaluations?
Reed: Just who I am as a person. They have film of me on the field, and now in speaking with scouts they can see who I am off the field. What kind of person I am. I’m a good kid.
DBN: What have all the meetings been like with scouts at the hotel?
Reed: It’s been like an elevator pitch or speed dating, but it’s been fun. You get to hear from different teams and they all ask different questions. It’s exciting and a blessing to be here. It’s a dream for scouts and coaches wanting to discuss things with me and about me. I am just taking advantage of the opportunity.
DBN: What are your favorite foods?
Reed: I love fried chicken.
DBN: What are you doing to prepare for the Combine?
Reed: I have never been coached in the 40 and I am wanting that number to like 4.4 or 4.3.
Here is every one-on-one rep for Michigan State WR Jayden Reed from the first two days of the Senior Bowl: pic.twitter.com/WPpLCXQSHX— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) February 2, 2023
DBN: Your routes are so crisp that DBs are always guessing which direction you will end up.
Reed: That is not by accident. I work hard on my routes and want them to buy every single twitch, every head bob. And then when they think they have me figured out to slant inside or out, I then take it long and they are back looking for me in the flats. That is fun to me.
DBN: You play like you love football. How did this begin?
Reed: I watched a lot of football when I was younger and my dad motivated me. I started at 10 years old and loved it then. In my sophomore year, my dad passed away and I wanted to stop playing. But he wanted the best for me and I wanted to make him happy and that is what kept me going. Now, I dedicate my game to him.
Barry Shuck is at the Reese’s Senior Bowl this week gathering interviews and providing coverage for Browns fans