Type to search

Articles & Analysis

Did Gutekunst Get an Under-the-radar Find in Valdes-Scantling?

Marquez Valdes Scantling vs Jets

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (83) gains yards after catch as New York Jets cornerback Darryl Roberts (27) tackles during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

My previous premise was that the Packers need more talent in the WR2 slot if they are to return to being a playoff team. Of seven WRs on the current roster – Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (MVS), J’mon Moore, Equanimeous St. Brown, Jake Kumerow, Trevor Davis, and Allen Lazard (?!) – their draft positions respectively were: 5th round, undrafted, 4th round, 6th round, undrafted, 5th round, and undrafted.

This is a “deep position” in numbers only, not in talent or accomplishments to date. As the Music Man said, “You got trouble, my friends.”

The only two prospects that I see potentially making a big leap in a year’s time are Geronimo and MVS. Sorry, but I continue to believe Geronimo has a low ceiling. His undrafted status is one big clue, and his terrible combine scores is another. He has fine hands and a great catch radius, but, except for several “scramble” plays, he creates little separation, and that will catch up with you over time.

The Packers had to be thrilled with MVS’s rookie year. When Allison, and then Randall Cobb, went down with injuries, he rose to the occasion. In games five through nine, he had 21 catches for 361 yards, including two 100-yard games. But then in games 10-14, he had only seven catches for 61 yards. Did something cause Rodgers and/or McCarthy to lose faith in him midway through the season? I can’t remember.

He certainly proved to be a deep-ball threat – a need for this team – with five catches of 38 or more yards.

Here’s the optimistic take on MVS. He was undervalued by the league in not being taken until the 174th pick, in round five. Why? Because he didn’t have a strong collegiate career. Why? Well, he mostly sat on the bench for two years at NC State, before transferring to the University of South Florida – that meant he had to sit out the 2015 season.

Valdes-Scantling WR South Florida

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (11) celebrates with tight end Mitchell Wilcox (89) after scoring a touch down against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the 4th quarter in the 2017 Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

As a junior at USF, in the, he only caught 22 passes, but they went for 415 yards (18.9 ave.) and five touchdowns. He finished his college career with 53 catches for 879 yards and six TDs. USF lost only two games in each of these years, bowl games included, but they played in the mid-range American Athletic Conference.

So, MVS had only one solid season in college, and it was for a team that was just starting to gain some national prominence, and doesn’t even have its own stadium. This undoubtedly created uncertainty among scouts.

There are encouraging signs that MVS has much more talent than your typical fifth-rounder. If he has a breakout year in 2019, it would greatly enhance Green Bay’s playoff hopes.

MVS’s development and potential have to be occupying a good deal of GM Brian Gutekunst’s mind as the draft approaches. How Gute thinks he’ll perform in 2019 will affect the Packers’ draft plans. If he has confidence in the youngster, he probably won’t draft a receiver until the later rounds, or not at all. He probably does have such confidence – he’s the guy who brought him here.

Valdes-Scantling TD catch

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (83) completes a touchdown pass during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The other factor in play is free agency. I just saw someone’s list of the ten top free agent receivers heading into 2019. It didn’t look to me like there were many good fits for Green Bay. The one exception is Cole Beasley, the seven-year Dallas veteran who is viewed as a slot receiver specialist.

Interest in Beasley in turn depends on whether the Packers wish to retain free agent Randall Cobb or let him go. After being overpaid by around $25 million the last four years, he in fairness ought to offer his future services for a pittance.

Lots of pieces in play, lots of unknowns. But it sure looks to me like MVS is going to win that WR2 job, opposite Davante Adams.

I don’t feel it’s crazy to think MVS could have a 1,000 yard season in just his second year as a pro. That’s something Adams, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, and Jayvon Walker never came near to achieving, though Cobb (954) and Antonio Freeman (933) came close.

The Packers have in modern times produced at least one receiver who had a grand second year, but it was 30 years ago: Sterling Sharpe had 90 catches, for 1,423 yards and 12 TDs. Of course that’s apples and oranges – he was the seventh overall draft pick in 1988.

Tags:
Rob Born

The old trial attorney never lost a case – he misplaced a few, but those files were found eventually. His arguments are water-tight, his logic unassailable, and his verdicts non-appealable. Resistance is futile.

    1

7 Comments

  1. Andrew Lloyd Peth February 4, 2019

    This position group is extremely deep in talent. It’s simple impatience that would drive us to waste high draft picks or cap dollars on this group rather than position groups in drastic need of repair.

    MVS and ESB will start outside with Adams in the slot–a terrifying prospect for opposing secondaries. My goodness, Adams will now have two elite athletes instead of the slugs he’s had before. MVS is 6-4, runs a 4.37, and has both moves and hands. ESB is 6-5, runs a 4.42, and has even better moves and hands. These are freaks, and we need to quit panicking and let them develop. They’re both well ahead of schedule for low-round projects.

    Meanwhile, Kumerow has far more upside than Allison–who is already hitting his low ceiling–and Moore is just a very talented player who needs more time for development than MVS and ESB.

    This is the deepest group of talented receivers I’ve ever seen in Green Bay.

    Reply
    1. Empacador February 4, 2019

      Exactly! Panicking over WRs when there are more pressing needs elsewhere. I relish a world in which McCarthy’s favorite gimmicks (Cobb and Montgomery) are no longer taking up valuable coaching time, position or roster space because they were incumbents. Cobb wasn’t performing since he got paid and Montgomery somehow was the X factor in McCarthys wet dream version of how his offense was supposed to work. Honestly wouldn’t surprise me if Allison is the odd guy out this season being a hold over from the McCarthy era. What worked for McCarthy might not work for what LaFleur has in mind.

    2. Savage57 February 5, 2019

      I don’t disagree with your point the Packers don’t need to invest more than pedestrian efforts to improve the position group, but that last statement is a stretch. 2011’s core with Driver, Jennings, Jones, Nelson, Cobb was probably the strongest top-to-bottom WR corps the Packers have ever put on the field.

      1. PF4L February 5, 2019

        Yes Sir.

  2. Zwoeger February 4, 2019

    Well that’s green and gold isn’t it.:) I saw more than a lot of potential this season I also saw him a lot of times open with Rodgers reluctant to throw at him. That has to be resolved. The guy can catch, it showed .

    Reply
  3. Kato February 4, 2019

    Been busy with personal stuff and am catching up on stuff here. Been some good articles and comments.

    I have been doing a lot of thinking about the packers, where they are as a team, the new head coach, ect. I have said this before, but trading Aaron Rodgers may be what is best for the future of this team, and for Aaron Rodgers. I don’t think this team is particularly close to a championship. 2020 at earliest, and that is if Gutekunst has two great offseasons of player acquisition and the teams coaching staff comes together as expected/hoped.

    They could easily fetch two firsts, and probably a hoard of other picks. This team needs a lot of players. I just don’t think they can build a championship caliber team quick enough, the odds are against them here. Besides, Rodgers skills have seemingly declined slightly. Whether last year was an aberration or not, is to be determined. He isn’t getting any younger or better and likely has plateaued. What happens if the packers stumble out the gate next year, particularly on offense? Will Rodgers quickly lose faith and confidence in the young coach?

    Reply
  4. Kato February 4, 2019

    That being said, assuming they go the likely route of rolling with Rodgers and attempting to build a championship team and coaching staff around him, they will have to utilize all avenues of player development. First step, get a veteran for right tackle and safety in free agency. If Morgan Burnett is indeed released, I would be very open to a return to GB. Say what you want about him as a bonafide playmaking safety, but he was assignment sure, and his veteran presence would be welcome. Plus he has been a solid tackler, and is fairly versatile and could play linebacker. Too bad they didnt keep Micah Hyde, he would be a pretty useful player. They need to draft another safety. Draft a tight end high, maybe with the 30th pick. I would prefer to move on from the Jimmy Graham experiment. Draft an interior offensive lineman, and another offensive tackle. Move on from Bulaga, he is no longer dependable. Take the Jason Spriggs disaster out to the pasture and shoot it in the head. They need a bonafide pass rusher or two. Anyone else here seen the problem?

    Reply

What Are Your Thoughts? Comment Now!