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Draft Diaries: Jake Reed Goes from 3rd Round to 3 Deep for Vikings


Leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft, Vikings Entertainment Network is sharing draft-day memories from recent years and decades ago. Some might have had more memorable experiences than others, but all have stories to tell.

EAGAN, Minn. — The NFL Draft has certainly evolved into quite the spectacle over the years, a fact Jake Reed has seen up close.

The former Vikings wide receiver was a third-round pick by Minnesota back in 1991, a year in which the Vikings didn't have selections in the first or second rounds due to an October 1989 trade in which Minnesota acquired running back Herschel Walker.

Minnesota received a 1991 third-round pick from Dallas in that deal, and the Vikings used it on a wide receiver out of Grambling State.

"It was a lot different than what it is now. I didn't know too much about the draft," Reed recently told "I didn't have the advice my son has now, so I think he has an advantage. But as a kid growing up in Covington, Georgia, I didn't know much about how you could get into the NFL. I watched football, I loved football … but I never knew how to get there.

"I didn't talk to many teams," Reed added. "The first and second rounds go by, and I'm sitting at my house wondering, 'Dang, am I going to get drafted?' Back then we had 12 rounds, so I didn't know what round I was going."

Reed recalled how only a handful of teams traveled to his hometown to watch him work out, but the Vikings were not among them.

And when former Vikings assistant head coach Tom Moore called Reed to inform him of his draft selection, the Georgia native took a quick geography course.

"I'm a Southern boy … I'd never been anywhere up north," Reed said. "I had to pull out a map to see where in the heck Minnesota is. It was a culture shock.

"And the biggest thing was the cold weather. I had a jacket and thought I'd be fine," Reed added. "But the first year in 1991 on Halloween night, it snowed something like 28 inches[PC1] . That was my first time experiencing that."

Nearly 30 years after he was drafted, Reed has turned into a proud father, and his son, J.R., is likely to be drafted later this month.

Reed said his son, a four-year safety at Georgia, has been in constant contact with teams from a distance during a pre-draft process that has been impacted by social distancing measures to combat COVID-19.

And along the way, he has dished out plenty of advice to J.R., who was First-Team All-SEC selection by conference coaches in 2019 and also named a First-Team All-American by Walter Camp.

"The biggest thing I've told him is to avoid mock drafts … because that stuff will drive you crazy," Reed said with a laugh. "Some people have you high, some people have you low … at the end of the day, those people aren't in the draft room and don't know what is on teams' boards.

"One thing he has going for himself is that he's a smart player," Reed added. "I told him when he was young that today's football doesn't have room for dumb players. They want people to play right now, and if you can't pick up the system fast, you won't be around long.

"He was a small player growing up, but I told him he had to be fast and hustle," Reed continued. "You don't have to have any talent for hustle and effort. It doesn't take any talent for that."

J.R. Reed was born in March of 1995, meaning he was 3 years old when his father was part of the iconic "Three Deep" group with fellow wide receivers Randy Moss and Cris Carter.

Jake Reed said he'd bring his son into Winter Park to watch film on Tuesdays, although the youngster was unaware he was hanging out with a pair of future Hall of Famers.

"He didn't know what he was looking at, but he'd be in there watching film," Reed said. "So, he's accustomed to watching film. We'd break his film down when he was growing up, but I wanted him to be a student of the game."

Jake Reed ranks fourth in Vikings history with 6,433 yards, is sixth with 413 catches and ranks seventh with 33 touchdowns. He and Carter also recorded four straight 1,000-yard seasons from 1994 to 1997, but saw that streak snapped in 1998 when Reed underwent back surgery midway through the season.

"Randy was actually the third guy, and I was on pace for 1,000 yards that season," said Reed, who could only laugh when he realized Moss' full potential on Thanksgiving of 1998 when he had three catches for 163 yards … and three touchdowns.

"I was sitting there watching the game and saw Randy Moss with three catches for three touchdowns," Reed said. "I knew my starting spot was over then."

Now, like Moss, Reed is content with sitting back and being a proud dad. The former teammates crossed paths in December when J.R. Reed and Georgia squared off against LSU, which featured Moss' son, Thaddeus, a tight end for the Tigers.

"I saw Randy at halftime of the SEC Championship," Reed said. "It was hugs and high fives.

"We were excited to see our boys out there," Reed said. "It was like everything had come full circle."