GREEN BAY, Wis. – In a tradition that stretches more than a decade, here is our annual ranking of the 90 players on the Green Bay Packers’ roster. This isn’t merely a look at the best players. Rather, it’s a formula that combines talent, salary, importance of the position, depth at the position and, for young players, draft positioning. More than the ranking, we hope you learn a little something about every player on the roster.
No. 34: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (6-4, 206, third season, South Florida)
Valdes-Scantling suffered knee and ankle injuries in a Monday night game against Detroit in Week 6 but powered through the pain to play 77 percent of the snaps and catch two passes for 48 yards. Six days later, he caught two passes for 133 yards with a 74-yard touchdown in limited action against Oakland.
It was a show of toughness and athleticism that seemed to show his arrow was pointing straight up.
Instead, his second NFL season disintegrated. In the final nine regular-season games, he caught 5-of-19 passes for 36 yards. His 0.32 yards per pass route and catch rate of 26.3 percent were last among the 105 receivers with at least 19 targets during that span, according to Pro Football Focus. For context, only seven others had a catch rate of less than 50 percent. Almost unbelievably, there was a seven-game stretch in which he had 11 yards on 11 targets. Even that might have been swept aside a bit had he not dropped a potential 70-yard touchdown against Chicago in Week 15.
With that, he played merely one snap in the NFC Championship Game.
With his combination of size and speed, he shouldn’t be tossed aside. But this obviously will be a huge training camp for the former fifth-round pick with the elite combination of size (6-foot-4) and speed (4.37 in the 40).
“The speed he has, he has to take that next step,” coach Matt LaFleur said during an offseason Zoom call. “That’s going to be a challenge for him, and we’re going to be all over him to do that.”
Valdes-Scantling entered training camp last summer as the clear-cut No. 2 receiver. It wasn’t even a competition. That was evident during special-teams drills, when Valdes-Scantling and Davante Adams worked on the side catching passes. It will be a different story this summer. Allen Lazard figures to enter camp as the No. 2, Devin Funchess was added in free agency and Equanimeous St. Brown is back from injury.
With the offense being run through Adams and running back Aaron Jones, there should be quality opportunities for whoever emerges as the secondary threats.
“When you get a guy like (Adams) who really just can’t be covered, it creates a matchup problem where they’ve got to put two on him,” Valdes-Scantling said last year. “That leaves one-on-one somewhere else. You get myself in a one-on-one situation, I like me. I’m going to bet on myself 10 out of 10 times. It just makes it difficult on defenses.”
Why he’s got a chance: Led by games of 99 yards vs. Denver and 133 vs. Oakland, Valdes-Scantling caught 26-of-56 passes (46.4 percent) for 452 yards and two touchdowns. While Lazard consistently delivered down the stretch, there’s no one on the roster with Valdes-Scantling’s game-changing ability. In theory, Green Bay’s running game should set up some deep shots on play-action, and that should fit MVS’s game nicely.
“MVS is a guy who I have a ton of confidence in,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said during an offseason conference call. “I really feel like if he can continue to grow that he can really add to our football team, and I look for him to make big strides.”