Green Bay Packers wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown have more in common than only a complicated name: Both of them had a good rookie season with the Packers, at least statistic-wise.
Valdes-Scantling was able to catch the football 38 times for 581 yards and two touchdowns. St. Brown on the other hand was able to make 328 yards out of 21 receptions. That may not be anything near the 1305 yards Odell Beckham Jr. had in his rookie season, but it gets really interesting if you only look at the Packers rookie receivers in recent years. Why? Because the Packers are not known for giving their rookie receivers much playing time.
In the last ten years (2008-2018), there were exactly five Packers receivers achieving more than 300 yards in their rookie season. You might know the other three of them: Jordy Nelson (366 yds, 2 TDs), Randall Cobb (375 yds, 1 TD) and our current No.1-receiver Davante Adams (446 yds, 3 TDs).
But you shouldn’t draw early conclusions from that: At the beginning of the season, there were Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison in front of both rookie recievers and they were fighting for a roster spot with Trevor Davis, Jake Kumerow, J’Mon Moore and DeAngelo Yancey.
Well, that changed pretty fast. Being plagued by injuries, the receivers depth chart got smaller and smaller as the season went on. Allison, Davis and Kumerow got injured and both rookie receivers got their chance to shine early in their careers – earlier than many other rookie recievers on the Packers roster in the years before.
What did they make of their chances? Besides some rookie mistakes that could have led to interceptions and a pick-6, they got a glimpse of what a connection with Rodgers could look like in the next years. They both earned some trust by Rodgers, which is the one-and-only thing that matters as a Packers receiver. Especially Valdes-Scantling showed what he can do on the perimeter, with some big plays against decent cornerbacks. Also, he showed he is able to not only be a threat on deep go-routes, but also on 7-10 yard plays as well.
Valdes-Scantling showed that he is able to be a No-2 NFL receiver in his second season opposite to Davante Adams. Most important for him – and EQ as well – is now to learn the new offense by LaFleur really, really fast. If both can do that, they will earn their playing time. Both players are physically gifted – they both are big and fast receivers – and a threat to many defenses. They both have a head start to Kumerow, Moore and the other receivers and in MVS could be fighting with Allison for the third receiver spot (if no veteran receiver comes to Green Bay in free agency and no receiver gets drafted in the first or second round) that would garantuee him a lot of playing time. If Randall Cobb shouldn’t be back for the new season, EQ could use the chance of getting snaps in the slot.
The second year will be crucially important for both rookie receivers. Can they use their chance? No one knows, but they control their own faith. With good performances in Training Camp and early in the season, they can earn more and more trust by Rodgers and with Rodgers’ trust, they can put up some big numbers.