We spoke with wide receiver draft prospect Jaydon Mickens, who could wind up on the Green Bay Packers’ radar.
There’s always been a certain stigma attached to being undersized at just about every position in the NFL and wide receiver is no exception. Size matters in the eyes of talent evaluators and fans alike that associate height, length and girth with touchdowns and dominance in the red zone.
However, dominance is more than winning jump balls. It’s about using several other skills, such as smoothly breaking in and out of your routes and the ability to accelerate after the catch. But if you want to keep it to touchdowns, Doug Baldwin, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., Ted Ginn Jr. and Brandin Cooks were all among the league leaders in touchdown receptions in 2015. The common thread among them? They are all sub-six-foot receivers who weigh in at less than 200 pounds.
And as for size being a predictor of how many games a player will miss, Brown has played in every one of his games over the past three years, while the similarly sized Emmanuel Sanders and Doug Baldwin have sat out a total of one and two games over their past five seasons respectively.
Enter Jaydon Mickens, the former Washington Huskie who stands somewhere between 5-foot-9 and 5-foot-10 and weighs anywhere from 170 to 174 pounds. Judging him by his game film, you can’t help but find yourself equal parts impressed and entertained by his shifty moves before and after the catch, as well as his varied bag of routes and plays he executes as both a runner and pass catcher.
Mickens is generally being projected as a seventh-round pick due to the popular perception that his sleight frame may present durability issues at the next level. While that may end up being the case with this Pac-12 standout (or any future rookie for that matter), Mickens started each one of his games over his past two seasons in Seattle.
Though the Los Angeles native’s receiving numbers were far from legendary, his year-to-year consistency was noteworthy considering he played under two different coaching staffs and five quarterbacks over a four-year period.
While stats don’t always tell the whole story when it comes to scouting, Mickens had to go up against several NFL-caliber defenders in a formidable Pac-12 conference.
What those defenders soon found out is that you can’t hit what you can’t catch, as the playmaker’s burst and lateral agility allowed him to explode off the line.
Mickens has proven to be equally adept at winning one-on-one battles on long routes where his ball-tracking prowess comes into play even when a second defensive back comes into the picture.
This silky-smooth route runner projects as an NFL slot receiver, a position that will require him to be a quick hands catcher that can’t afford to wait for the ball to come into the frame of his body.
He should also know when he’ll need to duck and run for cover across the middle when bigger and faster NFL defenders may try to blindside him with knockout blows.
Watching some film on how mighty mite Wes Welker frequently used to stay low and live to play another down for so many years may be a good idea for the 22-year-old who many expect will be hearing his name sometime in the fourth round or later in Day 3.
In speaking to Mickens, he came off as a dedicated student of the game in the descriptive ways he recounted how he runs his routes and the skills he needs to refine. The analytical jack-of-all-trades performer even touched on what goes through a pass catcher’s mind the moment he realizes he’s about to be on the receiving end of a game-breaking play.
Here’s a taste of what Mickens had to offer during our pre-draft conversation.
Next: Interview with Jaydon Mickens