If you believe what you read on Twitter earlier this week, Randall Cobb might never play again. For Green Bay Packers fans the news of Cobb’s ankle injury came as a shock. Although the severity of Cobb’s injury might be overblown by Twitter users, it still is cause for concern. The Packers parted ways with Jordy Nelson this off-season, which left Cobb and fellow wide receiver Davante Adams as the Packers only veteran wide receivers. The Packers do, however, have newly added tight end Jimmy Graham to possibly pick up the slack. They also spent three draft picks on wide receivers in this year’s NFL draft. All three of the rookie wide receivers have the attributes to be productive NFL wide receivers. But there seems to be one of them that is flying under the radar. Marquez Valdes-Scantling might be a diamond in the rough.
J’Mon Moore put up back to back 1,000 yards in receiving his past two seasons at Missouri against SEC defenses. Equanimeous St. Brown, another Packers draft choice, is blessed with height and has the bloodlines to be an exceptional professional athlete. Both draft picks have the chance to be very productive playing in a Packers offense that is quarterbacked by Aaron Rodgers. But while Moore has the route running ability and St. Brown has the height, Valdes-Scantling might be the total package.
Valdes-Scantling has displayed the raw athletic ability that is needed to play in the NFL. At this year’s NFL combine, he posted a 4.37 forty yard dash as well as a 30 1/2” vertical jump. All impressive numbers, but what makes them even more impressive is that he stands 6’4” and weight 206 lbs… The numbers he posted at the combine illustrated what type of athlete the Packers have on their hands.
While Moore put up better numbers during his college career, it seems Valdes-Scantling is a player on the rise. Valdes-Scantling started his collegiate career at North Carolina State. He spent two years playing for the Wolf Pack hauling in 44 catches for 538 receiving yards and a touchdown. After his two seasons with North Carolina State, he transferred to South Florida.
He redshirted in 2015 and in 2016 he once again posted 22 receptions, but this time hauled in five touchdown receptions. That season he averaged an eye-popping 18.9 yards per reception.
But he saved his best season for his last. This past season, he caught 53 passes for 879 yards with six touchdowns. Although his yards per reception dropped, he still averaged 16.6 yards, which any college team would love to see out of one of their wide receivers. His production helped lead South Florida team to a 10-2 record.
Still, even with the intangibles and the production, it will take Valdes-Scantling some time to adjust to a pro passing game. Like with most wide receivers coming out of college, he will need to adjust to a pro passing game. Most college receivers coming out play in a spread scheme offense. But it seems that NFL offenses are starting to implement more spread offense principles. That should help in Valdes-Scantling’s education into the NFL.
Still, Rodgers expects perfection out of his receivers. Even if they are just rookies. The size and speed will help towards his fight for playing time. But as Packers fans learned with Jeff Janis, it doesn’t guarantee anything.
Janis was also a physically gifted receiver coming out of college. But he never was able to get on the same page as Rodgers. Because of that, he never became the player the Packers, and their fans, had hoped he would be. He is now a Cleveland Brown, hoping to show that he is able to play receiver in the NFL.
Still, the Packers have been looking for a deep threat for many seasons. The Packers drafted Trevor Davis in the fifth round in 2016 hoping he would become that deep threat. But as of yet, his only production has come as a returner. The speed that he possesses and has displayed on special teams hasn’t translated as a wide receiver. That is where Valdes-Scantling fits in. Like with Davis, he has the speed to be that deep threat. But unlike Davis, he has the build to play the wide receiver position at the next level.
Like with Janis, Valdes-Scantling’s best path to the field might be on special teams. It will be a start, but the Packers are going to expect more out of him. Moore might be the first out of the three to get playing time in their rookie seasons. But if you are looking for a receiver that has the ability to have the best career, you don’t have to look any further than Marquez Valdes-Scantling.