With the 232nd pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Carrington Valentine, Cornerback, Kentucky. A team with a plethora of talent at cornerback, picked another corner in the seventh round. You immediately think “alright, project guy, special teams, likely practice squad, maybe he’ll be something in a few years.” You rarely think to yourself, “that’s going to be the guy to watch in Training Camp.” But that’s exactly who Carrington Valentine has been so far.
If you take a look back at the prospect report for Valentine before the draft, he was graded a 5.68 out of 10. Said to be a candidate for the bottom of the roster or practice squad. Ranked 36th amongst cornerbacks and thought to likely be an Un-Drafted Free Agent candidate. But if you have been watching him in Packers Training Camp the last few weeks, he’s looked like he could’ve been a 1st or 2nd round pick. There’s no way the Packers are going to even consider putting him on the practice squad.
What He’s Done
It seems like every single practice; Carrington Valentine is making a play. Matt LaFleur has commented that Valentine’s super talented and he’s maximizing those opportunities. Valentine has had many chances to shine lately with Eric Stokes being out. All some players need is that one opportunity.
Valentine shined just before Family Night on August 5th by intercepting Danny Etling in what would’ve been a pick-six in a real game. This was just more of the same as he’d been sticking with receivers and making plays all camp. When the Packers took on the Bengals in practice just before their Preseason matchup, Valentine had a challenge. The rookie CB had drawn the luck of having to cover Bengals stars Ja’marr Chase and Tee Higgins in joint practice. No one would’ve blamed the late-round rookie if he got beat a few times. But this wasn’t the case. He stuck with them with ease as if he’d been doing it forever and made a few plays. Then of course we all saw the Preseason Game when Valentine was everywhere. He hit the stat sheet with two pass breakups and an Interception, as well as four tackles.
So, it’s obvious that Valentine won’t be cut in a few weeks. But what can they do with him given the CB depth they already have?
Where can Valentine fit in?
The Packers cornerback’s room is headlined by Jaire Alexander. After Alexander, you have Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes. So, the top 3 CBs, when healthy, are basically set in stone. Other competition in Corey Ballentine, Shemar Jean Charles, and Kiondre Thomas haven’t shown nearly as much as Valentine has thus far. Keisean Nixon is an option, but I feel if the Packers have a legit fourth option at CB, they’ll protect Nixon as a return man.
That would put Valentine at the Dime Corner position. Unfortunately for Valentine, the Packers Defense only lined up in dime for 4% of snaps in 2022. This is believed to be due to the athleticism of Quay Walker to drop from his ILB position into pass coverage. This could remain the case, but if Valentine continues to show out, perhaps those opportunities grow just to get him on the field. Honestly though, for a 7th round pick to get Dime Defense snaps all year long, that’s not a bad gig. I’m sure he’ll trade that over sweats and a clipboard any day.
There’s also the fun rumor of moving Rasul Douglas to Safety. It’s been swirling around since even before the draft. With the Packers poor depth at Safety, if Valentine continues to pop, this would be an excellent idea. This would move Valentine into the Nickel role. If Eric Stokes is still on the outside, this could still allow Jaire Alexander to shadow the Offense’s best receiver.
Of course, it’s still early. We could be getting a bit ahead of ourselves thinking Carrington Valentine needs to be guaranteed playing time in 2023. As the competition ramps up, we will have to see how Valentine responds. He’s likely guaranteed a roster spot at this point. There’s no chance the Packers risk him hitting the waiver wire. But it’s between now and September 10th that will determine how much playing time Carrington Valentine gets.
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.