As the Green Bay Packers offense continues to be its own worst enemy so far in 2023, it's time to consider getting rookie wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks more involved.
Wicks doesn't have the lightning speed of a Christian Watson, and he won't be the reason the Packers' season turns around. Still, he's doing things other Packers receivers have struggled to accomplish this season: creating separation and blocking well.
Dating back to his college days at Virginia, all Wicks did was create splash plays. In 2021, he led all eligible receivers in yards per catch (21.1), and his four games with at least 100 yards receiving tied for fifth in the country. In 2022, Virginia passed less, and Wicks only played in eight games, hurting his draft stock but offering Green Bay immense value in the fifth round of the 2023 draft.
At the Senior Bowl, Wicks stated he models his game after former Packers receiver Davante Adams. It makes sense, considering both players are 6-foot-1 and over 200 pounds, with the ability to create separation at an elite level and stretch short passes into long gains.
Why Packers must give Dontayvion Wicks more snaps
In fact, according to Arjun Menon of The Scout, as the Packers entered their week six bye, Wicks led all qualified receivers in rate of getting open versus single-man coverage in 2023 (62.50%).
Matt LaFleur had high praise for the rookie recently.
"He's physical. He's smart. He's a really good route runner, he's got really strong hands, and he's fearless. He's a guy that we've got a lot of confidence in, and we've got to find different ways to integrate him into our offense," said LaFleur.
Most recently, in the Packers' loss to the Broncos, Wicks displayed his willingness as a blocker, blocking his assignment into the sidelines to open up space for AJ Dillon to run behind. It's that effort that coaches notice and earn players more snaps.
While Samori Toure was expected to be the Packers' fourth wide receiver this season, Wicks has comfortably out-snapped him 174 to 98. Wicks has been running routes from the perimeter and slot, offering LaFleur flexibility to move him around the offense, and even had him throwing a pass against Denver.
For Green Bay, only Romeo Doubs has exhibited weekly consistency when targeted. Christian Watson is oft-injured, and Jayden Reed has made big plays but is also experiencing typical rookie growing pains. Outside of them, no one has stepped for Jordan Love, and at this point, targeting Wicks more can only help the Packers' dire situation on offense.
As Love continues to throw mostly into tight coverage, it reflects the play-calling and Packers receivers' ability to create separation. If Wicks is the best on the team at creating separation, he needs to start seeing more targets. Per Player Profiler, Wicks is currently 18th in route win rate (53.6%), 11th in win rate versus man coverage (54%), and his 88.9% true catch rate (reception percentage based solely on catchable targets) leads all Packers receivers.
Getting Wicks more involved will not solely save the Packers' season, but his ability to get yards after catch, offer Jordan Love an improved passing window, and provide support in the run game all point towards him being an asset that can help right the ship.