GREEN BAY – Jayden Reed couldn't have asked for a better birthday present.
The Michigan State receiver celebrated his 23rd birthday in style Friday night, with the Packers selecting Reed in the second round (No. 50 overall). It came after Green Bay traded back twice from its initial spot at No. 45, gaining a fifth-round pick (159) from Detroit and a sixth-rounder (179) from Tampa Bay in the process.
Surrounded by family and friends at his draft party, Reed said he was overcome with emotion when the Packers called to tell him his childhood dream officially had been realized.
"My girlfriend gave me some glasses. I got an Apple watch. But nothing tops this," said Reed when asked about which birthday presents he'd received. "This is all I could ever ask for. This is all I ever wanted forever in my life. So, this is a blessing."
The 5-foot-11 receiver joked about being cautious when answering the phone because his caller ID read "scam likely." Awaiting Reed, however, was "the best phone call" he ever received.
Reed did it all during his three seasons in East Lansing, finishing his career among MSU's all-time leaders in receptions (sixth with 147), touchdown receptions (tied for seventh with 18) and receiving yards (12th with 2,069) despite playing in just 31 games for the Spartans.
He also returned kickoffs and punts throughout his college career, finishing with 581 punt return yards and three TDs on 39 attempts (14.9 yards per return). Two of those touchdowns came on his 12 punt returns in 2021.
The versatile Reed fills a big need for the Packers on both offense and special teams. He was clocked at 4.45 in the 40 at the combine, but vice president of player personnel Jon-Eric Sullivan said the Packers timed him at 4.37.
Green Bay feels Reed's makeup could complement returning second-year receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs and make him an ideal candidate to run jet sweeps, which Head Coach Matt LaFleur likes to incorporate in his offensive scheme.
"He plays fast. He's got good tempo and he's quick," Sullivan said. "Outside the numbers, the speed comes into play but inside, he's strong and he can get in and out of breaks, which is going to help him create some separation. It's exciting to see what he's going to do with the other two young players, and I'll throw Samori (Toure) in there, as well. … We like our group."
Prior to MSU, Reed played one season at Western Michigan for current Packers senior analyst Tim Lester. He earned freshman All-America recognition after catching 56 passes for 797 yards and eight touchdowns. He also returned a punt for a touchdown.
Reed transferred to Michigan State as a sophomore to reunite with childhood friend and current Spartans quarterback Payton Thorne, who was with him when he got the call from the Packers on Friday.
While admittedly not the biggest receiver on paper, Reed said he takes pride in his work ethic and toughness. He's been diligent in the weight room, developing from a 160-pound freshman to 195 at the moment.
"The name of the game is football. I'm a football player. I'm not just a receiver," Reed said. "I can do a number of things on the football field. I can play outside, inside. I can return kicks. I can run down on gunner. That's where I add value that I can do so many different things to help the team win. When you're multidimensional that definitely adds value instantly."
Take a look at Packers WR Jayden Reed during his college career.
Reed was introduced to football by his father, Sabian, who also gave Jayden his childhood nickname of "Bird" because he wanted him to fly on the field. During his 17-minute conference call, Reed invited members of the media corps to call him that, as well, if they so choose.
Sabian passed away in September 2015 from a stroke after struggling with heart and kidney issues for years, but Reed could feel his presence on Friday. It all made for a day the Packers' rookie receiver won't soon forget.
"It was a surreal moment, just thinking about my dad," Reed said. "His mom sitting beside me, his sister sitting beside me, my mom sitting beside me, I couldn't, it took a long time for me to process it. Like, I couldn't believe it, and I'm still trying to process it at this moment.
"It's really just a blessing to be here, to have this opportunity to talk to you guys right now. So, I'm blessed and I'm highly thankful and grateful for everything that it took to get here."