The Green Bay Packers are off to a 2-1 start this season despite having a young and inexperienced team especially at the skill positions on offense. Some of the young players have been off to a better-than-expected start in 2023. Here is a look at five young Packers players who have exceeded expectations thus far:
Young Packers Player Exceeding Expectations Number Five: WR Dontayvion Wicks
Packers fans weren’t sure what they were getting in Dontayvion Wicks because injuries kept him out of action for much of training camp and the preseason.
The fifth-round pick out of Virginia scored his first NFL touchdown in Week 2 against the Falcons and followed that up with a four-catch, 45-yard performance in the comeback win over the Saints.
Wicks has been able to find ways to get open and has been elusive after the catch.
While he may see less action once Christian Watson returns to the lineup, Wicks has showed he can pick up the offense quickly and has gained the confidence of his quarterback even without extensive work in training camp and the preseason.
Young Packers Player Exceeding Expectations Number Four: K Anders Carlson
Anders Carlson had the difficult task of taking over as the team’s kicker for Mason Crosby. Crosby had held the position since 2007 and is the Packers all-time leading scorer. He was also very popular with teammates and fans alike.
Carlson struggled in the preseason and in training camp, making some very long field goal tries but missing several shorter kicks including multiple extra points. His consistency was in question and fans were concerned what would happen once the games counted.
The sixth-round pick out of Auburn has played well in his first three NFL games, making all nine of his extra points and going 3-for-3 on field goal tries. His long kick was a 52-yard effort.
Carlson faced pressure in kicking the game-winning extra point against the Saints to cap the Packers comeback from a 17-point deficit to give the team an 18-17 lead. He made the kick.
The Packers hope the strong-legged rookie will continue to have a productive season.
Young Packers Player Exceeding Expectations Number Three: TE Luke Musgrave
Luke Musgrave faced the challenge of starting at tight end in the NFL as a rookie. Few players make an impact in their first season in the league at this position because of the multiple skills required to play it.
In his first three games, the Oregon State alum has proven himself a willing blocker while also showcasing his ability as a receiver.
Musgrave clearly still has more to learn. His longest catch came on a broken play which should have been a touchdown, but the rookie tripped over his own feet.
Still, Musgrave enjoyed his best game so far in Week 3, catching six passes on eight targets for 49 yards. His catch percentage thus far is a very respectable 73.3.
Musgrave has good downfield speed and should be able to stretch the field more than any Packers tight end since Jermichael Finley.
Young Packers Player Exceeding Expectations Number Two: WR Jayden Reed
Second-round pick Jayden Reed won the Packers slot receiver battle in training camp and has been a steady contributor to the team in the first three weeks of the season.
The Michigan State alum has nine catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns. He has also returned five punts for 58 yards which is a healthy 11.6-yard average.
Reed has mastered the sideline go route. He starts in the slot, makes a fake and heads towards the sideline. Slot corners have struggled to keep up with him when he runs that pattern.
Like most rookies, Reed needs to refine his route running and increase his catch percentage of just 45.0 but the talent and potential are clearly on display already.
Young Packers Player Exceeding Expectations Number One: QB Jordan Love
Ok, Jordan Love isn’t a rookie, but he did have only one NFL start entering this season and he had the pressure of taking over for one of the all-time greats to play quarterback. Being an NFL quarterback isn’t easy and comes with a lot of pressure under any circumstances, but Love was certainly under the microscope from the start this season.
Love has demonstrated poise under pressure and has led the Packers to two wins in his first three starts this year including a dramatic 18-point, fourth quarter comeback against New Orleans.
Love has thrown seven touchdowns against just one interception, and he’s run for one more.
The former Utah State star still needs to improve his accuracy and get more in sync with his young receivers, but his leadership, arm strength and cool under pressure are all evident after three games.
There will be growing pains ahead for all these young players, but they are off to a better than anticipated start and are showing the potential that led GM Brian Gutekunst to select them in the first place.
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