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Packers’ Dontayvion Wicks ranks 1st in NFL in key stat

The rookie receiver led the league in his ability to separate against man coverage, arguably the key trait teams look for in receivers.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

During his rookie season, the Green Bay Packers’ coaching staff praised rookie receiver Dontayvion Wicks — who was picked in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft — for his ability to separate at the top of his route. This has even led to comparisons to former star receiver Davante Adams.

But how good was Wicks as a rookie, really? Green Bay had a four-to-five-man rotation at the receiver position this year, meaning that Wicks was never a true featured go-to receiver for the Packers. Well, take a look at this statistic from Arjun Menon, who is working with Pro Football Focus’ data.

According to Menon, no player in the NFL had a higher percentage of routes vs man coverage that created separation from a defender than Wicks in 2023. Notably, this was a weakness of the 2022 Packers until Christian Watson’s breakout game against the Dallas Cowboys. With Watson out for half of the regular season due to a hamstring issue, Wicks was able to fill the role as the man-beater for the team.

To put Wicks’ snap count into perspective, he played less than a third of the snaps against man coverage as New York Jets receiver Garrett Wilson saw in 2023, per Menon’s table.

So how good is Wicks? He might be really, really good. The question now is simply if he’ll be allowed to play a higher percentage of snaps in 2024 or if the coaching staff will continue to split up reps between Wicks, Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed and Bo Melton moving forward. If given the ability to scale up his production, though, don’t be surprised if Wicks, a Day 3 selection, ends up turning into the Packers’ number-one receiving option in the future.