The Green Bay Packers selected Eric Stokes with the 29th pick. Let’s take a look at what he can bring to Green Bay’s secondary.
The Green Bay Packers already have a lockdown cornerback in Jaire Alexander. Now the Packers may have two lockdown cornerbacks after selecting Eric Stokes with the 29th pick on Thursday, April 29.
“Really good corner in the SEC,” Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst said. “He has the excellent size that we are looking for…Rare athlete…Just a great kid. We’re really excited to add him to our group.”
After redshirting, Stokes recorded 9 pass deflections in 2018 for the Georgia Bulldogs. In 2019, Stokes recorded one sack and nine pass deflections. This past season, Stokes broke up four passes and recorded four interceptions, including two pick-sixes.
As a former track star, it was no surprise that Stokes tested well at Georgia’s pro day. Stokes ran a 4.29 40-yard dash and recorded a 38.5 inch vertical.
“His explosiveness is off the charts,” Gutekunst said. “He just fit our profile not only as a player, but as a person. He’s going to be a great fit, not only on the field, but our locker room.”
Stokes is the definition of lockdown. He has the ability to take half the field away. According to Pro Football Focus, Stokes only allowed 145 yards and one touchdown this past season. He had five games where he gave up 10 yards or less in coverage. Stokes doesn’t give up the big play. He only gave up three touchdowns the past three seasons.
“I held my own throughout the whole year,” Stokes said. “It helped me and gave me confidence…I already played against NFL-like wide receivers in the SEC.”
Stokes is a sticky cornerback. As a former track star (4.29 40-yard dash), he doesn’t lose many footraces. He is able to turn and run with wide receivers, sticking in their hip pockets.
Stokes has fancy footwork. He’s so smooth in his backpedal. He plays through the wide receiver’s hands at the catch point. He has natural hands and his lack of ball production is a product of not being targeted enough during his Georgia career.
To go along with his world-class speed, Stokes has good length. He doesn’t give the receiver any room to breathe. He stays connected on top of the routes and suffocates passing lanes.
With his length and quickness, Stokes has the ability to matchup with the shiftier wide receivers and the Calvin Johnson’s of the world.
Stokes is a willing tackler in run support. He didn’t fill up the stat sheet, but he’s more than capable of sticking his nose in and being an asset against the run.
Stokes checks all the boxes for the Packers. He’s a great athlete and a lockdown cornerback. He’s a great player and he’s an even better person off the field. During Georgia’s Pro Day, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart mentioned the work that Stokes does with the Boys and Girls Club in Athens.
“He’s such a genuine human being,” Gutekunst said. “The Packers fans are going to love him…He checked the boxes.”
The NFL Draft is all about long-term projection. Stokes’ best football is in front of him. He’s relatively new to the position. He started playing cornerback during his final year in high school. He’s a plug-and-play starter, but he’s nowhere near his ceiling.
“He really has a great upside,” Gutekunst said. “He’s a really good football player right now…I think the sky’s the limit.”
Stokes has the length, speed, and physicality that teams are looking for in a lockdown cornerback. He has fluid hips to turn and run with wide receivers, sticking in their hip pocket.
Stokes is ready-made. He could step in from day one and start opposite Alexander. The Packers already have a lockdown cornerback in Jaire Alexander. Now, with Stokes, they potentially have a second lockdown cornerback.
“I’m hungrier than ever,” Stokes said. “I’m going to do anything I can to help the team…I’m going to learn. I’m going to come in and do everything that I can. I’m going to keep improving as a player. I really want to help the team win and I’m going to do everything in my power to do that.”