The deep ball, gravity, and moving forward: Looking at new Chiefs WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling's film
Examining what the big receiver brings to the table for the Chiefs in a post-Tyreek-Hill world
The Kansas City Chiefs traded away Tyreek Hill, and in one fell swoop totally changed the dynamic of their offense. That much we know.
There’s a whole lot more that we don’t know. As I wrote the day Hill was traded, from a teambuilding perspective the Chiefs suddenly have a myriad of avenues to choose from in how they want to build their roster for 2022 and beyond. But as interesting as discussing strategy for draft picks, trades, salary cap management, etc is (and it’s very interesting), there’s still football to be played.
That’s another part of the unknown with Hill now in Miami. In the Patrick Mahomes era, Hill has always been a focal point of the offense. With him gone, there’s a gigantic question mark as to how Andy Reid will choose to run things in order to maximize Mahomes. With a player whose total skillset can’t be replicated, how does the team start to move forward in a way that makes sense? And what is the general blueprint for the passing game now that Hill, and all the scheming he requires and gravity he has over defenses, is gone?
Well, now we know what step one is: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, a 6’4” speedster formerly of the Packers.
The Chiefs signed MVS for what amounts to a 2 year, $18 million deal (when you get rid of the “fluff,” something we need to get better at when discussing NFL contracts) and upgraded, on paper, the talent level of the receiver room. They also, I believe, showed a little bit of how they’re planning on moving to the next phase of the Mahomes era.
MVS isn’t a player you sign to replace Hill. No one can do that. He’s also shown in his four years in the league that he’s not a “number 1” receiver in terms of production, and he’s never been asked to be one while sharing the field with Davante Adams in Green Bay. What he is, though, is a player who can replace an aspect to what Hill brought to the offense (though not at the same level). The same applies to JuJu Smith-Schuster, and I’m guessing the same will apply to whatever receiver they bring in next (via free agency, trade, or in the draft).
So what skillset is that? As ever, the only way to learn that is by looking at what a player does on film over a decent sample size. I knew very little about MVS prior to the signing, and so I looked at five games from 2021 (DET, KC, MIN, LAR, and BAL) to try to get an idea as to what he brings to the table (similar to what I did with Smith-Schuster just last Saturday, though it feels like a year ago already).
Let’s talk about what MVS does in terms of skillset, where he might be lacking, and what his signing can do for the offense overall.
As we go, keep the word “gravity” in the back of your head. Because that’s what this signing is all about.