2018 NFL Draft Sleeper Spotlight: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Valdes-Scantling is a size-speed freak and a physical specimen who has an excellent chance of being a far better pro than he was a collegiate player. In spite of his physical stature melded together with absolute freakish athleticism he wasn’t given much of a chance to star at North Carolina State. In his freshman season, he only had 22 receptions for 281 yards which was followed by 22 receptions once more for 257 yards and only 1 TD his Sophomore campaign.

In his frustration at how little he was used he than transferred to South Florida. In his Junoir season after sitting out a year as a redshirt Junior, he had the same amount of receptions he had at NC State his first two seasons (22). However, he was a lot more productive with his receptions compiling 415 yards with 5 TDs. He then had a breakout year in his senior season where he caught 53 passes for 879 yards and 6 TDs. He also ended his career on a high note in the Birmingham Bowl where he had 133 yards on only 3 receptions versus Texas Tech.

Make no mistake about it, in spite of all his natural size and elite physical traits he is a project. He needs to work on the intricacies of route running. If he did, in fact, get drafted or signed by the Bears he’d likely be limited to special teams and the occasional decoy on a go route to open things up underneath or maybe a zero route or two and even perhaps a fade route in the end zone here or there. In this offense, it’s vital for the receivers to run precise routes and make the correct reads due to the reliance on option routes. He also will need to improve getting off press as this is a timing based offense. Once he shows the coaching staff he can execute on the reads and timings of his routes he should get a lot more playing time as he is a physical matchup nightmare.

Getting to his measurables. He stands an impressive 6’5″ and 206 lbs of muscle with 32 1/2″ arms and 10 1/4″ hands and looks like a wing player prospect for the NBA more so than a Wide Receiver prospect in the NFL. He doesn’t really jump like one though. At least vertically where he jumped 30.5″ which is an excellent jump for a 300 lb lineman, but not so much for a 6’5″ 205 lb Wide receiver. Not sure how that happened. Perhaps he ate a 20 lb breakfast and it weighed him down. Who knows. It’s even more peculiar given he had a very good broad jump at 10’4″ which shows explosion. However, he does run really fast. He had a blistering 4.37 40. He is also pretty agile which showed in his 6.85 3-cone time which also tells you he should be taught to be a good route runner.

Below are his combine and Pro day videos and as you can see he moves well, tests well and catches everything with no effort at all. Plenty to work with here if his intangibles and IQ match up to the Bears standards to take a late round flier on him.

Below, you’ll see one of his highlight videos off of youtube. Generally, I’ll just record pieces of these off my phone and post them with breakdowns, but this is short enough to post and cover. In the very first clip after the intro hype stuff, you can see his explosiveness to be able to take short passes for long distances. In this case a smoke route all the way to the end zone some 70 yards or more. On the next play, you’ll see his body control as he goes up for a pass in the back of the end zone and angles his legs behind him to keep his feet in bounds even though his hands and shoulders are at or over the end line. The next six plays you see his ball tracking skills on several go routes which will help stretch the defense out and keep them off the line of scrimmage and out of double coverage when he’s on the field. Then two plays after you see him take a short curl route and makes incredible moves which show his agility in spite of his size. Very loose hips. The video also shows a limited amount of routes which is typical of most college spread schemes. As the video goes on you see his natural hands as he catches the ball stretched out and consistently away from his frame.

Valdes-Scantling isn’t necessarily the prototypical Wide Receiver you’d associate with the Bears scheme as route running and football IQ are probably the most important element in succeeding as a Wide Receiver in this offense. However, while not being polished and pro-ready day one he does have all the physical tools to be a great route runner. If the Bears feel he can pick up the responsibilities of his position mentally and he has the work ethic to be coached up he could easily be developed into exactly what they look for in a Wide receiver and get tremendous value very late in the draft, and even perhaps as a priority free agent should he go undrafted.

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