Tracking The Careers Of Former Kentucky Wildcats Chris Rodriguez And Carrington Valentine Following The NFL Draft

Tracking The Careers Of Former Kentucky Wildcats Chris Rodriguez And Carrington Valentine Following The NFL Draft

October 30, 2023

As is the case every year, several Kentucky Wildcats were drafted into the NFL in 2023 and are now playing out their rookie seasons.

While the University of Kentucky is famous for its basketball program, they’ve made many pros out of football players over the years. And one pair, in particular, had their names called on the third night of the draft when rounds 4-7 were completed.

Chris Rodriguez, a running back who left the Wildcats as their record third-best rusher with 3,644 yards, was selected by the Washington Commanders. The team, under new management after being sold to a group led by Josh Harris and including Magic Johnson, took Rodriguez from the sixth round at 193 overall.

The Green Bay Packers picked cornerback Carrington Valentine in the seventh at No. 232.

“I’m excited. I’m ready to get to work,” Rodriguez said in the aftermath of what was likely the biggest night of his life. “It’s one of those moments I waited for my whole life. It feels almost unrealistic. I’m ready to get to it.”

“I feel like I’m a physical press-man corner. I feel like I can be left on an island and press a receiver,” Valentine was quoted as saying. “I’m a young corner. I only made the switch my junior year.”

Both players should have taken sections of UK fans with them to the NFL, and they’re both likely to influence the Kentucky Sports betting scene even while in the NFL. Of course, neither the Commanders nor the Green Bay Packers are thought to have the slightest chance of winning anything this season. They’re currently 3-4 and 2-4, respectively.

Rodriguez is one of the most notable running backs in UK history. He rushed 71 times for 533 yards and six touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2019 and was the program’s leading rusher in his sophomore year, posting 785 yards and 11 TDs in 2020.

He took an even bigger jump in 2021 as he rushed for 1,272 yards and eight scores on 205 carries that year. However, his 2022 season was marred by off-the-field issues as he was arrested for driving under the influence and was later alleged to have filed inaccurate time cards while working part-time for UK Health. Still, he left the university with their third all-time rushing yards record and is second in rushing touchdowns all-time.


“He’s a big physical guy. Some of the things that Eric wants to do, this is a guy that Eric was very high on,” Commanders head coach Ron Rivera said about him after the draft. “He’s a guy that Eric thinks will most certainly have a role for us on the offensive side.

“We feel very good about what we have with AG [Gibson] and we continue to see the growth and development with B-Rob [Robinson]. Those are two young guys that we like a lot. Adding a physical player in Christopher is a guy that talking to Eric and what Eric wants to do, how he wants to use him. In Eric’s mind, this is a guy that will fit what he wants, and so we were pretty excited about being able to pick him. We had a higher grade on him, too, as well. So we thought we got a lot of value here.”

Valentine, meanwhile, joined Green Bay as their only cornerback from the draft and just one of two defensive backs. A two-year starter with the Wildcats, he made 10 appearances for the uni in his freshman year, making 10 tackles, breaking up one pass, and recovering one fumble.

He started 12 of 13 games the following season and registered 61 tackles to rank fourth on the team, adding five pass breakups, 1.5 tackles for loss, and one sack.

The CB started again in 2022, posting 46 tackles, 10 pass breakups, one fumble recovery, one sack, and one interception. He declared for the draft after three college seasons, despite having eligibility.

“What made me want to enter, I just felt like I was ready to make that jump and bet on myself and learn from some of the great minds and coaches,” he explained.

Valentine has played in all six games for the Packers this season, starting in three, and appears to have a very bright future ahead of him.

As for Rodriguez, the RB has made five appearances and 14 rushes for a total of 61 yards. He was the Commanders’ leading rusher in their recent loss to the New York Giants, making seven carries for 31 yards.

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