The Green Bay Packers went 13-3 last season, won the NFC North and reached the NFC Championship Game for a second straight year. The Packers lost to Tampa Bay, though, 31-26, in the conference title game and the offseason has been packed with drama.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers wants out of Green Bay, but the Packers have insisted they won’t move him. Stay tuned for more theatrics in the days ahead.
With or without Rodgers, Green Bay will start training camp practices on July 28. Throughout the rest of the month, I will count down the ‘30 Most Important Packers’ heading into the 2021 campaign.
At No. 16 is wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The other players that have been revealed in the top-30 are listed at the bottom of the story.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Last season: Valdes-Scantling played a career-high 73.9% of the snaps in 2020 and led the NFL in yards per reception with 20.9. There doesn’t seem to be a cornerback MVS can’t run by and his speed (4.37) helps clear room for Davante Adams underneath.
On the flip side, MVS had a drop rate of 11.8%, which was a career-worst.
Valdez-Scantling finished second on the team in receiving yards (690), third in touchdowns (six) and tied for fourth in receptions (33) last year. He was also tied for second in targets (63) and was third in yards after the catch (255).
MVS then had eight catches in Green Bay’s two playoff games and a team-high 115 receiving yards in the NFC Championship Game against Tampa Bay.
He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the 2021 campaign, and could be trending towards a second contract in Green Bay.
Career to date: Valdes-Scantling, a fifth round draft pick in 2018, ranked seventh among rookie receivers in yards (581) and ninth in receptions (38) that year. The only rookie receivers with more yards than “MVS” that season were Atlanta’s Calvin Ridley (821), Carolina’s DJ Moore (788), Denver’s Courtland Sutton (704), Arizona’s Christian Kirk (590) and Cleveland’s Antonio Callaway (586).
MVS had four of Green Bay’s 16 receptions of 40 yards or more in 2018. He also averaged an impressive 5.32 yards after the catch.
MVS followed that up with a disappointing 2019 campaign when he lost his starting job and plummeted down the depth chart in the second half of the season.
That year, Valdes-Scantling entered the season as a starter and had 21 receptions for 416 yards in the first seven games. But MVS fell out of favor, saw his snap count plummet, and had just five catches for 36 yards in the final nine games.
Outlook: MVS will likely battle Allen Lazard and Devin Funchess for the No. 2 wide receiver job. What Valdes-Scantling has that the others don’t, though, is dynamic speed.
Lazard ran the 40-yard dash at 4.62 seconds coming out of Iowa State in 2018. Funchess ran the 40 in 4.70 seconds coming out of Michigan in 2015.
Yes, MVS can drive coaches batty with his inconsistency. Valdes-Scantling’s ridiculous speed makes life easier for Davante Adams underneath, though, and should keep him in the lineup for at least one more year.
“I just want him to improve every week and continue that mind-set to get 1 percent better. He’s bought into my coaching, my philosophy of what I’m looking for and also with our system and the demand that we’re asking for out of them, and he’s never complained about it. Whatever his role was that week – sometimes he might not have had a target because maybe that role that week wasn’t designed to get him the ball all the time, and he’s never said a word, he’s worked and he’s smiled and had a great attitude and effort.” — Packers wide receivers coach Jason Vrable on MVS
“I can live with MVS. I’ve got more confidence in him now than probably ever. I think he continues to get better each and every day. Every time we go out there, he’s providing big plays.” — Packers coach Matt LaFleur of Valdes-Scantling
“He’s a very talented young kid. He’s explosive, he’s an improved route runner and he can do things after the catch. It’s just about that consistency and trusting himself. I think some of it comes down to confidence, you know? I think he just needs to trust himself, first and foremost.” — Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on MVS