Most NFL teams don’t expect much from a seventh-round draft pick, especially in their rookie season. But Green Bay Packers rookie cornerback Carrington Valentine has defied the odds. Not only did the Kentucky star make the team, but he’s earned a starting job and is earning the respect of coaches and teammates alike.

GM Brian Gutekunst selected Valentine with the 232nd overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. It didn’t take long for Valentine to make an impact on the coaching staff in training camp. When the Packers held a joint practice with the Cincinnati Bengals in August, Valentine faced the challenge of covering the Bengals talented receiving duo of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.

Carrington Valentine Made a Good First Impression on the Packers

Head coach Matt LaFleur was impressed by the job Valentine did in that joint practice that included intercepting a pass.

“He’s a guy that, obviously, has a lot of talent,” LaFleur told reporters. “I think he’s approached it the right way. He’s getting a lot of opportunities, especially with a guy like [Eric] Stokes being out, and he’s taken full advantage of those. Every practice, he makes a play. You guys saw the end of the last practice we had making that pick-six. He’s super-talented and he’s maximizing those opps.”

From the start, Valentine had a sense of quiet confidence about him. “I’m just a mild-mannered guy but my confidence is there,” he said during training camp. “Even when bad plays happen, you’ve still got to stay confident in yourself because you’re not going to make every single play at corner. When you make plays, you get that nice little sensation and you get happy about it, but you’ve got to remember to stack plays. Tomorrow’s a new day.”

Carrington Valentine Learned from the Packers Veterans

Valentine learned quickly and paid attention to the veterans in front of him on the depth chart like Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas and learned from them. “They’ve been like the older brothers, helping me out and bringing me along,” Valentine said. “Sul’s been a really big help in the meeting room, seeing things from his point of view, and Ja, he’s been a big help, too. It means a lot.”

Stokes started the season on the PUP list which gave Valentine a chance to see more action. Then, back and shoulder injuries forced Alexander to miss several games. Valentine saw more playing time than expected and started three early season games.

Then, the Packers traded Douglas to the Buffalo Bills and the trade deadline. That left Valentine as one of the team’s two starters on the perimeter at cornerback.

Valentine developed a lot of respect for Douglas. “Honestly, the way I took it as, I knew I had some big shoes to fill,” Valentine said. “I also didn’t want to let him down as well. So, even though he’s not here, he still motivates me. I’m probably going to text him after the game. And from practice, he taught me how to prepare as a pro. He taught me a lot. I feel like he left Green Bay, and he left me, with a lot of good wisdom.”

Taking Advantage of an Opportunity

In his first start after the trade, Valentine broke up three passes in the Packers win over the Rams. He repeated that two weeks later in the victory over the Chargers.

Valentine likes to play press man and isn’t afraid to get physical with receivers. He has done a good job in coverage thus far. Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 45.7 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Valentine according to Their quarterback rating is just 66.4. He’s also been credited with 25 total tackles and six passes broken up.

Valentine has gotten his career off to a surprising start. But he must keep developing if he hopes to have a great NFL career. The Packers are pleased with his progress thus far and believe the sky’s the limit for their seventh-round rookie turned starter.

“Man, 3-7 [Valentine] played like a top-tier corner in the league and it’s exciting to see,” Alexander told reporters after the Rams game. “And you know, he will continue to do that. Because that’s the standard now. I mean, we’ve seen it in camp – he’s young, he’s hungry [and] he wants to make plays. He wants to be the best, you know, and I can’t be more happy to play alongside with somebody like that.”


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