One of the more frustrating parts of the start of this Green Bay Packers’ season is that, on film, fifth-round rookie receiver Dontayvion Wicks seems to be consistently open, despite never being thrown the ball. So far, Wicks has played 160 offensive snaps for the team (good for 52.6 percent of the total offensive snaps this year) but has only managed to record 95 total yards this season.
You don’t have to take my word that he’s getting open, though. Arjun Menon, who does analytics work in football, tweeted out a table earlier this week that shows just how good Wicks is at beating man coverage.
With data courtesy of Pro Football Focus, Wick’s “open” rate against man coverage is 62.5 percent. Among players with 20-plus reps against man coverage this season, that ranks first in the league. He has apparently gotten open against man coverage 20 times this year — about twice the number of fellow top-10 man-beater Mike Evans — on 32 single coverage man snaps. For perspective, Detroit Lions receiver Marvin Jones Jr., who has also been single-covered by a man 32 times this season, only has gotten open four times against man coverage in 2023, per Menon’s chart and PFF’s charting. That’s one-fifth of the rate of Wicks.
It seems like weird things continue to happen on plays designed for Wicks this season, which has led to the lack of production. The best example of this was against the New Orleans Saints, when Jordan Love slipped on a double pass play. Meanwhile, Wicks was running downfield wide-open and could have registered an explosive play on the snap. It’s hard to fault Wicks, who was eventually targeted with a bad ball on the play, for not recording numbers in these circumstances.
What’s a little frustrating is that the recent addition of a fully healthy Christian Watson has severely cut into Wicks’ playing time, which might mean that we’ve already seen the most that we’re going to get out of Wicks this year. In the first four weeks of the season, Wicks played a minimum of 50 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in each individual Packers game. Last week against the Raiders, he played just 13 snaps — good for 22 percent of the team’s snaps that night.
The reason? Watson’s snaps increased from 26 (46 percent) to 49 (84 percent) as his hamstring issues now seem to be behind him. Now I’m not advocating for Watson to be benched after just one healthy game in 2023, but maybe there’s a way to give Wicks more of Romeo Doubs’ or Jayden Reed’s snaps — two receivers who aren’t beating man coverage consistently this season.