Grading the Green Bay Packers 2023 rookie class after first season

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Carrington Valentine

Grade: A

Round 7 (232nd overall)

Another candidate for steal of the 2023 draft, Valentine unexpectedly led all Packers rookie defenders in snaps (695).

After the team traded away Rasul Douglas, Valentine was thrust into a starting role across from Jaire Alexander due to Eric Stokes' inability to stay on the field. After a rough start against the Broncos, Valentine only allowed one touchdown in 12 starts.

He led the Packers in deflections (9), and Valentine's willingness as a tackler is another major plus to his game. He racked up 12 total tackles in the playoffs and surrendered two catches for 13 yards against Dallas Cowboys All-Pro receiver CeeDee Lamb in the Wild Card Round. This was despite Dak Prescott chucking 60 passes on the day.

It's likely the Packers draft another defensive back early in the 2024 draft, but Valentine has certainly earned another shot at the number two role across from Jaire Alexander.

Lukas Van Ness

Grade: B

Round 1 (13th overall)

The "Herculean" fella out of Iowa played a role akin to Rashan Gary's rookie season. Instead of backing up the "Smith Bros," Van Ness was largely blocked from more reps due to Preston Smith's surprisingly strong play the entire season. In fact, Van Ness played 15 fewer snaps than the sixth-rounder Brooks.

However, that shouldn't be viewed as a knock on Van Ness. If nothing else, he steadily improved throughout the season, growing into his own as a pass rusher. Most impressively, his effort is never in doubt, and this kid's motor always ran hot tracking down a ball carrier.

Van Ness finished with four sacks on the season, and in a very Gary-like fashion, his impact didn't always show up on his sack totals. He had some seriously impressive pass-rush wins in the playoffs against two future Hall of Fame left tackles, Tyron Smith and Trent Williams. It hasn't gone unnoticed by Head Coach Matt LaFleur, either.

"The more he plays, the better he gets," said LaFleur in a January press conference. "I think he's really shown progress, and that's what you want to see from your young players. You look at how we're using him compared to how he played in college, it's been a big learning curve for him."

Arguably most exciting about Van Ness is that he only just turned 21 and, on limited reps, continuously showed off his immense power and relentless pursuit. Of all rookies, Van Ness finished with the ninth-most combined QB hits, pressures, and sacks, but he did it with a range of 300 to over 750 fewer snaps than players in front of him.

He's only getting a B due to the limited sample size.