Green Bay Packers

Here Comes Carrington Valentine

Photo Credit: Mark Hoffman via USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers’ second-year defensive back Carrington Valentine is a star in the making. From his on-the-field competitiveness to his off-the-field personality, Valentine has shown he has what it takes to make a second-year jump and become a league-wide name in the NFL.

In his rookie year, Valentine played in all 17 games, starting 12, and performed well for a seventh-round draft pick. Valentine gave up a 57.6 completion percentage and 84.8 rating to opposing quarterbacks. Pro Football Focus gave Valentine a 57.5 grade, which was good for 90th out of 127 graded corners. The statistics and grades don’t tell the whole story, though.

It’s safe to say that Valentine likely played more than the Packers expected in 2023. Between lingering injuries for Eric Stokes and the trade of Rasul Douglas, Valentine had a baptism by fire in many ways. Valentine suggested as much when talking about his 2023, saying, “I learned who I was as a player, what worked, what didn’t work. Now I know my identity of what I got to do to take that next step.”

To Valentine, that player is a physical, hard-working competitor who is fearless against any opponent and isn’t afraid to trash talk a bit. Green Bay’s rivals also noticed this, with Detroit Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown recalling Valentine: “Those young dudes be talking crazy reckless.”

Going into the offseason, Green Bay’s staff made it a priority for Valentine to put on muscle and get bigger. “I think it’s been outstanding,” Matt LaFleur remarked on Valentine’s effort this offseason. “That’s a guy who stands out, quite frankly, in my mind. We challenged him to put on weight after the regular season. He came back and definitely looks bigger and is bigger.”

In total, Valentine went from the high 180 lbs. to hovering closer to 200 lbs.

The change in physique will go a long way for Valentine. It also fits with the potential changes to the defensive scheme. Defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley will likely bring in a higher rate of press-man coverage, requiring the defensive backs to play more physically at the point of attack.

The additional weight should help Valentine reduce his 12.2% missed tackle rate. It should also make him more effective in playing aggressively down towards the football in coverage and tackling, hopefully giving receivers a bit more pause when matched up one-on-one.

You’ll notice in the above plays that many of them are off-coverage (thanks, Joe Barry). It’ll be interesting to gauge the cornerback room’s level of physicality better and more frequently if they employ press-man coverage anywhere close to the 45% of the time coordinator Hafley used it at Boston College. I’d love to see a lot more hand-fighting, bumping receivers at the line of scrimmage, and harder hits. It seems Valentine could thrive in that type of play style.

Ultimately, heading into the year, the Packers will let the group compete for snaps behind star cornerback Jaire Alexander. LaFleur emphasized his confidence in that group’s depth and that they could see Eric Stokes and Carrington Valentine rotate for snaps and let them compete. Valentine has put the work in to add weight and gotten more experience in his rookie year than many other corners might. Now, he just needs the opportunity and we could see the infamous Year 2 jump.

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