The Green Bay Packers love late-round wide receiver prospects with excellent physical tools. Perhaps the most freakish athlete of their day-three wideout picks was Jeff Janis, who spent three-plus years as a top punt gunner and special teams cover man and pitched in with a few big catches in one playoff game back in 2015.
Few players were more polarizing during their tenures in Green Bay than Janis. His fans saw the build and the speed, and thought he just needed a chance to prove himself on offense. Critics pointed to his unrefined route-running as the reason he could not beat out other players for a legitimate role on offense.
Now, check out this description of a wide receiver:
Height, weight, speed prospect with intriguing deep ball capabilities as a big field stretcher. He is a work in progress who hasn’t learned how to create leverage within his linear routes and doesn’t have the ball skills he will need to win downfield. He’s probably not ready to help a team just yet, but his issues may be correctable so he’s worth a Day 3 selection as a stash-and-coach prospect.
Sounds like Janis, doesn’t it? Instead, this is the description provided by NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein of wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, a product of the University of South Florida.
Valdes-Scantling is indeed that type of receiver with elite size and speed but who will likely go in the late stages of the 2018 NFL Draft. Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 206 pounds, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds at the Scouting Combine. He then posted excellent reported times in agility drills at USF’s Pro Day in March, with a 6.85-second 3-cone drill and a time of 4.17 seconds in the short shuttle.
By comparison, Janis measured in at 6-foot-2 7/8 and 219 pounds, and put up a 4.42 40, 6.64 cone, and 3.98 shuttle.
While Valdes-Scantling only posted a 30.5-inch vertical jump (Janis’ was 37.5 inches), his speed and quickness suggest that he shouldn’t need to be leaping for 50-50 balls too often — particularly if he can refine his route-running skills. Admittedly, that appears to be the biggest reason that Janis could not develop into a serviceable NFL wideout, so there is some cause for concern there.
However, while Janis dominated Division II football at Saginaw State, Valdes-Scantling’s experience all comes in the FBS. He started his college career at NC State, then transferred to USF for his final two seasons. His senior year saw him catch 53 passes for 879 yards and six touchdowns; he also added eight rushes for 108 yards and another score.
The Packers do have a number of wide receiver projects on the roster at present. Trevor Davis still has yet to develop into a reliable wideout, while DeAngelo Yancey looks to crack the 53-man roster for the first time and last year’s UDFA darling, Michael Clark, similarly needs to develop his route running. However, none of those players possess either the size or speed that Valdes-Scantling has, and if the Packers end up holding on to several of the picks that they currently hold in rounds six and seven, he’s well worth a flier pick.
Hell, if he can simply carve out a four-year tenure with the Packers as a special teams gunner, like Janis before him, that’s well worth a late day three pick.