Packers WR Valdes-Scantling looks for new heights in 2021

In a certain way, you can look at Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s career in two different chapters, even as he only heads into his 4th NFL season.

2018 and 2019 was Chapter 1, where the main character was introduced. Marquez, 23 at the time, was coming off an impressive Senior Season at Mid-Major University of South Florida, where he caught 53 passes for 879 yards and 6 touchdowns in the warm Florida sunshine. Shortly thereafter, he was selected by the Packers in the 5th round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Heading into the 2018 season, Valdes-Scantling found himself in a crowded wide-receiver room, with veterans like Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, as well as two other rookie receivers the Packers drafted in 18′ (J’Mon Moore, 4th Round and Equanimeous St. Brown, 6th Round). Far from being guaranteed a spot on the Packers roster, Marquez showed enough to the coaches to earn a helmet on game day.

As many NFL players experience, especially Green Bay Packers WR’s catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, you are expected to produce a lot and do it quickly. As one could reasonably expect from a 5th round rookie wide-receiver, Valdes-Scantling (MVS, for short) had his moments of ecstasy mixed in with a heavy dosage of frustratingly inconsistent play.

One of those highlights that made Packers fans jump out of their chairs was in Los Angeles. The Rams, undefeated at the time and clinging to a 6 point lead in the 4th quarter, looked for a stop. That’s when the young rookie WR toasted Rams CB Troy Hill on a go-route down the right sideline and 40 yards later, found himself in the end zone and an extra point away from the lead. The potential had been flashed.

MVS finished his rookie season with respectable statistics: 38 receptions, 581 yards, 2 touchdowns. Heading into 2019, the expectations for Marquez were high, especially after the loss of Randall Cobb in free-agency. With no clear-cut #2 on the team, it was MVS’s job to take. That however, didn’t go to plan, as Valdez-Scantling seemingly regressed, struggling with route running and drops, which led to a decrease in self-confidence. As a result, MVS barely saw the field in the 2nd half of 2019, while the Packers went on to play in the NFC Title Game.

Chapter 2, the New Beginning, unraveled an entirely different journey for Marquez in 2020. Jaw-Dropping plays was the theme, and not just for the Packers benefit. MVS, in his 3rd season, made some absolutely magnificent plays, like his beautiful 78 yard touchdown vs. Jacksonville, or his 3rd and 10 miracle reception in Indianapolis. On the flip side, he had a couple extreme low’s, like when he fumbled in Overtime against the Colts and dropped the easiest touchdown a player will ever get in Chicago.

However, I would argue that the beauty of Marquez’s 3rd season wasn’t fully wrapped with a bow until the NFC Championship Game against Tampa Bay. On that unseasonably warm January Sunday, Marquez put it all together, showcasing an all-around excellent, stable, professional performance against an incredible defense in an all-important game. There were no drops, or fumbles, or head-scratching moments from #83. It was simply all business and elite play of football, highlighted by a 50 yard touchdown. He finished the Conference Championship Game loss with a stat line of 4 receptions for 115 yards.

Chapter 3, if necessary, could be titled Progression/Regression. MVS finished 2020 at the height of his career crescendo, up to this point. We just may be witnessing the unfolding of a very strong NFL career. If that’s the case, Year 4 will be filled with more jaw-dropping plays, overall consistency and a reassuring sense of self, “I belong”. On the flip side of that coin is the opposite, where MVS could possibly regress, like he did in 2019. However, I wouldn’t bank on that.

Valdes-Scantling, now 26 years old, knows that he belongs in the league. His deadly speed has always made opposing defenses pay for those who dare to play him 1 v 1. Now, with another off-season to hone his craft and improve on the details, as he noticeably did in 2020, there is no ceiling for the Packers ascending WR.

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Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a diehard Packers fan. Alex\\\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.

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