One thing is certain: the Green Bay Packers’ preference of the big-bodied wide receiver remains alive and well, even with Brian Gutekunst taking over as general manager. One round after selecting 6-foot-3 wideout J’Mon Moore from Missouri, the team picked Marquez Valdes-Scantling at the end of round five.
Valdes-Scantling is an even more impressive physical specimen than Moore, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing in around 206 pounds, but equally impressive as his size is his speed. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds at the 2018 NFL Combine, posting a 1.55-second time in the first ten yards. He then followed that up with times of 4.15 seconds in the short shuttle and 6.85 seconds in the 3-cone drill at his Pro Day. However, making the best of those physical gifts is going to be the big challenge for the young receiver as he looks to begin his NFL career.
The book on Valdes-Scantling is that he needs to refine his route-running and consistency. Take the scouting report from Lance Zierlein of NFL.com as an example: “Valdes-Scantling 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.” That’s the player in a nutshell, and he recognizes that he needs to work on the finer points of his game.
“The mental approach to the game is something I have to improve on,” Valdes-Scantling told the media after his selection. “Learning those details and learning from older vets ... that’s going to take some time, but obviously I’m coming in to compete for a job right away.”
Prior to the draft, we profiled Valdes-Scantling and compared him to former Packers wideout Jeff Janis. Both players possess top-level size and speed, but were unpolished in the finer points of playing wide receiver. Aside from a game or two, Janis never seemed to unlock all of his potential, however, and the incoming rookie will likely have to take a similar career path early on: contributing on special teams and learning the playbook and route-running technique before being a major part of the offense.
Unlike Janis, however, Valdes-Scantling does have some experience at higher levels of college football. He initially enrolled at NC State, starting as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to USF. He said that he did not feel that the system NC State ran was a good fit for him, leading to his decision to transfer.
The Packers now have a glut of wide receivers on the roster, though no clear-cut starting option on the boundary opposite Davante Adams. Valdes-Scantling will likely get some looks this summer, along with the likes of Moore, Trevor Davis, Geronimo Allison, Michael Clark, and last year’s fifth-round pick DeAngelo Yancey. However, it seems impossible that the Packers will be able to keep all of those players on the roster this season, making the wideouts one of the most intriguing position groups to watch during training camp this summer.
In addition, Valdes-Scantling has two connections on the Packers’ roster already from the team’s draft class last year: Kofi Amichia, the offensive lineman from USF, and Josh Jones, the safety out of NC State. Valdes-Scantling even mentioned running into Jones when in Green Bay for his official pre-draft visit, and said that Jones encouraged him to work hard when he enters the league to take advantage of his physical tools.
Whether or not he is able to do so will be the question that defines his career.