By Jack Wepfer
The NFL is one of the most cut-throat professions around. Especially for low-level draft picks or undrafted free agents, professional football operates as one of the closest models to a true meritocracy.
If you get an opportunity, you better be ready to perform. And if you perform, prepare for more opportunities. Slip up and you’ll find yourself on the bench. Just ask Packers second-round pick from last year, Josh Jones.
In his first game with extended snaps, Packers rookie fifth-round pick Marquez Valdes-Scantling took advantage of his opportunities.
The rookie finished last Sunday with seven catches on 10 targets for 68 yards and a touchdown. He almost had a second touchdown when he reached the ball across the plane before his elbow touched the turf. Nonetheless, it was a solid effort for the South Florida product.
More importantly, despite making rookie mistakes – not working to keep his feet inbounds on an early throw near the sideline, for example – Valdes-Scantling never seemed to make the same mistake twice. He learned, he adjusted, he improved.
Valdes-Scantling has the physical traits to succeed in the NFL. With a tall, lean frame, he moves tremendously well (4.37 40-yard dash) and his speed has time and again passed the eye test against speedy, quicker corners. And unlike Jeff Janis and Trevor Davis, two former Packers draft picks who ostensibly could have taken the “deep threat” role, Valdes-Scantling appears to be a legitimate vertical threat, something the Packers haven’t had in some...