Continuing the Green Bay Packers cornerback draft profiles with Eric Stokes
Eric Stokes – CB, Georgia – 6’1”, 185 lbs
Eric Stokes became a starting cornerback midway through his freshman year for an always above average Georgia Bulldogs defense. In 31 career games, Stokes recorded 78 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 4 interceptions, 2 pick sixes, 22 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble.
According to PFF, Stokes was the 4thhighest man coverage grade in 2020. He also allowed 0 touchdowns, brought in 4 interceptions, and allowed a passer rating of 37.1 when lined up outside.
With Green Bay Packers cornerback, Jaire Alexander, needing a new running mate, Stokes could potentially be a strong long term solution to keep their secondary as one of the best in the NFL for many years to come.
The biggest talking point about Stokes in the past week is about his athleticism. Posting a 4.25 second 40-yard dash, a 41.5” vertical, and a 131” broad jump, Stokes easily just proved he is one of the most athletic cornerbacks on the board this year. These numbers do translate to the field well, Stokes is very difficult to burn deep and he shows the closing and catch up that can be trusted at any level no matter the receiver.
The biggest thing that shows up on film is his route mirroring especially early on in the plays development. Stokes plays a lot of press coverage and he shows patient eyes and footwork and is well disciplined to not allow any separation off of the line of scrimmage.
Stokes is also a very versatile defender. Throughout his career with Georgia he has gotten a lot of experience and has been successful lined up in man coverage, zone coverage, press, he has played a good amount in the slot, and has even played off ball and covered tight ends at times. Stokes also has a lot of success and aggressiveness as a blitzing cornerback.
Stokes is great in man and zone coverage but one thing that really stands out in his both coverages is his vision for different reasons. In man coverage Stokes does a good job of reading the receivers eyes and knowing just when the ball is there and when to put his hands up, and he has great coordination to always obstruct the receiver’s hands when attempting a catch. In zone coverage, he does a phenomenal job of reading the play and how it will progress and also can read the quarterbacks eyes and cut off routes with efficiency.
Good rep at the LoS and on the Go ball from Eric Stokes. Squeezing the WR towards the sideline is always a good move pic.twitter.com/LaixrAAlLH
— Zach (All-22 Addict) Gartin (@All22_Addict) March 9, 2021
One of the biggest momentum crushers and drive extenders in the NFL is penalties especially a 15-yard pass interference call. This makes how grabby Stokes can get, a pretty big cause for concern at the next level. It can happen at times on deep balls where he can’t get his head around to make a play on the ball, but it mainly happens against shifty receivers with quick cuts. He doesn’t have the hip quickness to stay locked on to them.
Stokes is also an inconsistent tackler and often doesn’t show aggressiveness. When blitzing he does everything right, he’s aggressive he drives through the player and he goes for the ball. Other than that, he arm-tackles ball carriers, he doesn’t drive through anyone, and he just seems timid.
Stokes could also stand to gain some weight in muscle. He is very rarely seen being able to get off a block even against receivers where he has 10+ pounds of muscle on them. Another reason it could help him is to get his hands stronger at the point of attack especially on deep balls. That was never a major issue but it certainly would boost his game a lot.
Stokes has all the fundamentals you look for in a prospect, he is athletic, he is a successfully versatile defender, he has good vision, and he can get his hands on the ball to make plays. He comes with a lot of issues but they don’t appear to be major ones. Since he only became a cornerback midway through high school, Stokes is still raw and things like being grabby or timing his reactions should get better with more time an experience.
A team like the Green Bay Packers have slight wiggle room in their cap space to add a veteran cornerback which could allow them to take someone like Stokes in the draft and let him develop some before getting thrown into the fire. Along with the Green Bay Packers incorporating more zone coverage into their defensive scheme, Stokes could potentially be a very good fit in their elite secondary.
Stokes currently project as an early 2nd round pick and has the chance to move up even more after his pro day numbers. I see him as more of a late 2nd or early 3rd round pick with how much he still has to improve on.