There are many traditions and reputations that have anchored Green Bay Packers football over the past century. From the elite defensive days of Ray Nitschke to the quarterback pipeline of Bart Starr, Brett Favre, and now Aaron Rodgers, the Pack have consistently had an identity thanks to several players who have cemented themselves in football history.
There’s no question that their current identity resides in the hands of Rodgers, the future Hall of Fame quarterback. However, instead of completely sucking up to Rodgers, let’s talk about the wide receivers.
What? Sure, the Packers had their heyday of wideouts in the era of Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, and Jordy Nelson, but the current depth chart isn’t anywhere close to what those teams had in the slot!
You’re not wrong. But this group has the potential to be pretty darn close.
It’s no secret that Davante Adams is one of the top wide receivers in the NFL. In fact, the league recently ranked him at No. 6 in the countdown of the top-100 players in 2021.
Randall Cobb may not have a seat saved in Canton, but he’s shown that he can be one of the strongest slot receivers in the league when he’s at his best, especially with Rodgers behind center.
Adams has passed Driver on the career touchdown mark and is on the cusp of passing Jennings. Cobb has the potential to put up another double-digit touchdown season now that he’s back in Green Bay. Add in a versatile young tight end like Robert Tonyan, and that’s a trio of very-above-average offensive weapons. A good receiving core, but perhaps not a great one.
However, the Packers don’t have to settle for very good. They’ve got an X-factor who can elevate their receiving game to the level that fans gawked over in the early 2010s: Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Popularly known as MVS, Valdes-Scantling is entering his fourth season with the Packers after being drafted out of the University of South Florida in 2018. The 6’4” 26-year-old has been a key contributor ever since.
No, Valdes-Scantling doesn’t have the touchdown numbers or targets that a top-level receiver like Adams has. However, his progression is promising. MVS tallied 581 yards, two touchdowns and averaged 15.3 yards per reception on 73 attempts and 38 receptions as a rookie in 2018. MVS had a similar season in 2019, scoring two touchdowns and racking up 452 total yards. He increased his yards per reception to 17.4.
And while Rodgers and Adams stole the show last year, it was also a breakout year for Valdes-Scantling. The St. Petersburg, Fla. native posted a career-best 690 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 20.9 yards per reception on 33 catches.
What Does 2021 Have In Store?
The offensive blueprint for this year’s Packers is far from a secret. Aaron Jones will tally 10-plus touchdowns, Adams will do the same, and Rodgers will likely construct another MVP caliber season.
That’s all great, but it won’t propel the Packers to a Super Bowl. But MVS’ versatility could.
When Adams emerged as an NFL superstar, opposing coaches wisely double-covered him in every possible situation. There’s every reason to believe that will be the case this season, because Adams’ numbers continue to climb upwards. With Adams covered, Valdes-Scantling will continue to have the opportunity for big-time plays down the field.
MVS isn’t a Randall Cobb. His playing style isn’t catered towards 5-10 yard receptions; it’s geared for 20-30 yard game-changing plays that will score touchdowns. Think of MVS as a young buck and Adams as the old bull.
Valdes-Scantling’s numbers in his first few seasons aren’t that different from Adams’ when he debuted with the Packers. Adams only scored four touchdowns and tallied 929 yards in his first two seasons with Green Bay. MVS tallied four touchdowns and 1,033 yards in the same time span.
Perhaps the biggest similarity? Both men had a breakout year in their third season with the Packers. Yes, Adams’ breakout was much more substantial than Valdes-Scantling’s (12 TD, 997 yds, 13.3 Yd/R), but the idea is the same.
MVS is not be the player that Adams is. He may never be. Yet there’s no doubt that he’s got the talent to be a downfield threat for Green Bay, one that could elevate the receiving core to a level that hasn’t been seen since the days of Driver, Jennings, and Nelson.