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SEC Cornerbacks for the Green Bay Packers

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The Green Bay Packers might lose Kevin King during the 2021 offseason. They could look to some SEC powerhouses to replace him in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Last week gave us some bitter-sweet news. Much of the NCAA chose to postpone their 2020 football seasons. However many conferences stood their ground, the SEC being one of them.

The SEC has provided college football fans with the highest quality of entertainment over the past couple of decades, and in turn, it’s provided the NFL with the most talent. The SEC led the NCAA with 339 players on NFL rosters in 2019. The Big-Ten was second with 253 and the ACC was third with 215.

Alabama is famous for churning out NFL talent, but teams like Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida can all boast the same. Those three teams have cornerback prospects on their roster that possess day-two talent for the 2021 NFL Draft

Eric Stokes Jr, Georgia

Eric Stokes Jr is a Junior cornerback for the Bulldogs, with 1 ½ years of starting experience under his belt. He’s a thin 6’ 1”, 185-pounder with legit speed. Stokes is a safe bet to run a sub-4.4 forty-yard dash at the NFL combine, with potential to time in the 4.2s.

Stokes’ speed sticks out on tape. While his thin frame allows receivers to push him off their route, Stokes always regains position with his make-up speed. He partners that speed with elite footwork and fluid hips.

That combination allows him to be aggressive at the line of scrimmage. His length and hand technique help him stall receivers and throw off timing routes. However, Stokes isn’t keeping anybody from progressing through their route for an extended period of time. He isn’t strong enough to accomplish that.

His lack of strength is even more evident against the run. Stokes struggles to separate from blockers and doesn’t pack much power as a tackler, but he’ll never abandon his responsibilities in the run game. Stokes doesn’t miss many tackles but his play against the run isn’t exactly a positive attribute.

Stokes is at his best when he’s in press-man coverage. He wins at the catch point consistently and has 9 passes defended in each of his two years of college ball.

His combination of length, speed, and mobility is rare. It gives him the potential to be one of the best press-corners in the game. Eric Stokes Jr needs to add size and strength to improve his play but even without it, he’s a solid second-rounder.

Israel Mukuamu, South Carolina

Israel Mukuamu is a Junior approaching his second year as a starter. At 6’ 4”, 205 pounds, Mukuamu has crazy length and is sure to draw comparisons to our very own Kevin King.

Mukuamu put himself on the map with his three interceptions against Georgia last year, one of which he returned for a touchdown. His performance led to one of the biggest upsets of the entire college football season.

Mukuamu’s length plays a big role in his success. He gets a hand on every ball thrown his way if he’s in position. However, being in position is a constant struggle for Mukuamu.

He has a tendency to lunge while in press coverage. If his hand placement isn’t perfect, Mukuamu doesn’t have the footwork to rebound. That leaves him vulnerable to big plays downfield. Mukuamu panics when receivers gain a step on him and his reaction is to grab cloth. He needs to clean up his hand technique to have a successful career in the NFL.

Against the run, Mukuamu has been very average. He does a good job keeping stalk-blockers off of him but doesn’t seem to be the most willing participant. When the ball carrier is in front of him, Mukuamu does a decent job of bringing him down, though it rarely looks pretty.

You would expect better performance against the run from a player with Mukuamu’s safety experience but he doesn’t look like a safety. Mukuamu looks like a press-man corner who can win at the catch point, which is exactly what he is. If asked to do anything else in the NFL, he’ll be out of place.

It was clear in 2019 that Mukuamu needed more experience at the cornerback position. He looked like a guaranteed draft pick with potential for much more. His 2020 season will tell us plenty about him but right now, Israel Mukuamu is a fringe day-two press cornerback prospect.

Marco Wilson, Florida

Marco Wilson is a redshirt-Junior coming off a disappointing 2019 campaign. He and CJ Henderson, the 10th overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, were supposed to provide Florida with one of the best cornerback tandems in the NCAA but things haven’t turned out as well for Wilson as they have for Henderson.

Wilson flashed elite traits and limitless potential as a true-Freshman in 2017 but tore his ACL in the first game of 2018. He was awarded a medical redshirt for his injury and proved healthy last year but showed little improvement from his true-Freshman season.

Wilson still shows lapses in coverage and gets caught with his eyes in the backfield, which are things you don’t expect from a player approaching his fourth year in the program. Still, he is a gifted athlete and shows some crazy play-making ability. Wilson needs to find a way to balance that ability with his coverage responsibilities.

He has plenty of experience in press coverage but his reps often leave us wanting more. Wilson has a tendency to stop his feet when jamming at the line of scrimmage, which can give the receiver a step on him, but he has elite speed and recovery footwork.

When he’s given the opportunity to do so, Wilson is adept at getting into the backfield off the edge. He can blow a play up, but beyond that, he offers little value against the run. Wilson hasn’t had much success as a tackler. Far too often he dives at the ball carrier’s ankles, grabbing nothing but dust.

Wilson presents scheme versatility, splitting snaps between slot, off-man, press-man, underneath and deep zone coverage. With Wilson’s 6’, 190-pound frame and top-notch athleticism, he can really play anywhere. His brother, Quincy Wilson, looked like a solid press-corner prospect during the 2017 NFL Draft but lacked Marco’s natural abilities.

Marco needs to develop a better sense of game flow in 2020 and improve his play against the run. If he can do that, Marco Wilson should build on his day-two draft grade.

The Green Bay Packers may be in need of a cornerback next year. Of course, there’s an entire 2020 season to be played and most of 2021 free agency. We may see Chandon Sullivan and Ka’Dar Hollman develop and lessen this need but I’m banking on the Green Bay Packers needing a cornerback next year.

Last year, the Green Bay Packers showed a solid blend of press-man and zone coverage. They can target the most talented cornerback available, regardless of style. Press-man corners are at a premium right now which might drop a talented zone-emphasis cornerback into the Green Bay Packers’ lap.

However these three SEC studs look like solid press corner prospects worth keeping an eye on. Eric Stokes Jr, Israel Mukuamu, and Marco Wilson are all poised for big seasons in 2020. We’ll be keeping an eye on their progress at Game On Wisconsin.

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