When the Packers rebuilt their receiver group over the past two drafts, a lot of attention was paid to Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs.
Watson was the team’s second round draft pick in 2022, and his tape showed a freak athlete who could potentially evolve into the Packers’ next star receiver. After a slow start thanks to injury (unfortunately much like this year as well), Watson scored seven touchdowns in four games to give Packers fans a tantalizing taste of his potential.
Doubs meanwhile had a stellar rookie training camp and preseason, kicking the hype on him into overdrive. Sadly he couldn’t get into a consistent groove with Aaron Rodgers during the season, but he has developed strong chemistry with Jordan Love. Two touchdowns against the Chicago Bears in the season opener showed that.
Yet for all the hype around those two players, there is a sleeper in the receiver ranks who could also emerge as a big play threat.
Meet rookie Dontayvion Wicks.
One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity, and Wicks is taking advantage of Watson’s absence. He caught two passes last week against the Falcons, including his first career touchdown, and could have had more if he wasn’t interfered with on the flea flicker that opened the game. He also almost had another touchdown that was nicely broken up by Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell in the end zone.
It is going to be hard to keep Wicks off the field when Watson returns to the lineup. It’s remarkable for someone who missed so much of the preseason with both a concussion and hamstring injury.
It’s easy to see why the Packers like Wicks. He runs his routes well and, most importantly in Matt LaFleur’s offense, has shown himself to be a willing blocker. Nothing on his stat sheet really stands out yet, but he is showing all the signs of becoming another all around solid receiver for the Packers.
If that sounds familiar, it should. Wicks has all the makings of being another Allen Lazard, although he’s smaller. Reliable when thrown to, dependable when not.
If he can build on what he did in Atlanta, that could spell trouble for Malik Heath and especially Samori Toure. If the Packers decide to move Watson around, let’s say in the slot, that would open up a role for Wicks on the boundary.
Regardless of how he is used, the fifth round pick has earned additional playing time when Watson returns.
Given how many questions swirled about the Packers’ young wide receivers all offseason, it’s nice to see the youngsters showing flashes so early in the season. It means they’re developing options and more importantly, depth.
It’s almost like general manager Brian Gutekunst had a plan all along.
You love to see it, and so does Love.
There will be lumps along the way, but the talent in Wicks is already showing and that’s a promising sign for a fifth-round rookie. As LaFleur likes to say, if he gets one percent better each day, he’ll be in great shape come the end of the season.
All signs point to yet another great late round find by the Packers.