Welcome to Rookie Report, the weekly series where we review the performance of the Green Bay Packers‘ 2021 Draft class.
CB Eric Stokes
In his first game without Jaire Alexander by his side, Eric Stokes took on the lead CB role for the Packers, going toe-to-toe with fellow rookie first round pick Ja’Marr Chase.
It was an excellent battle, with great plays made by both men. It’s safe to say that the superb Chase came out on top of this individual matchup. An unbelievable toe-dragging sideline catch in overtime was enough to convince me how talented Chase truly is.
Stokes though, played better than he had any right to. A terrific recovery on an early deep ball to Chase where Stokes managed to get a calm disposing fist on the ball to break up the completion was probably his best play of the game.
It’s also so great to see Stokes firing downhill on quick hitting completions like a cannonball à la Jaire. I love having athletic corners who play with that aggression and physicality.
So far, Stokes is the 2nd most targeted cornerback in the whole league through five games, but he hasn’t exactly been getting picked on. There’s definitely been a lot to like.
This was Newman’s first game without fellow rookie Josh Myers at his left side. Newman’s 70.2 PFF grade was the highest of the Packers offensive line on Sunday, and his personal best of his career to date.
Newman was responsible for two of the nine pressures allowed by the offensive line, who held up about as well as we expected against a not-very-good Bengals defensive front.
Amari saw just five offensive snaps on Sunday against the Bengals. He was used in his typical pre-snap motion sets. One of which was on the 59-yard completion to Davante Adams.
We’re still waiting on our first Rodgers to Rodgers connection of the season. We may be waiting a while if guys like Equanimeous St. Brown continue to see the field ahead of the third round draft pick.
On special teams, Rodgers kept up his form of lackluster lateral punt returns and shaky decision making. He threw a good block on a gunner, preventing him from downing the ball inside the 5-yard line, but that was about it in terms of positives on special teams.
Hill saw an early screen pass on offense — the first reception of his NFL career — which went for five yards. He then saw no touches after. As the designated kick returner, Kylin returned only one kickoff, which went for 16 yards.
TJ Slaton and Jack Heflin
TJ Slaton is now really up to two career sacks. This one was just as fraudulent as his first one. Good coverage by the Packers and pressure off the edge from Jonathan Garvin forced Joe Burrow to step up in the pocket and inadvertently into the massive grasp of Slaton who took him to ground.
Aside from that sack, the duo of Slaton and Heflin combined for just 29 snaps and the grades are remaining bad for another week at least. They were two of the three lowest graded players on the Packers defense.
It certainly doesn’t help their case that the vets along the defensive line had a strong game. Dean Lowry and Kingsley Keke combined for six pressures.
It will be interesting to see if Shemar Jean-Charles sees any more playing time as the Packers cornerback room becomes progressively depleted. Jean-Charles also missed a pair of tackles on special teams.
The addition of Jaylon Smith means Isaiah McDuffie might not see the field whatsoever this year. It’s been a long time since we’ve had legit competition at linebacker in Green Bay.
Hopefully Josh Myers can return from his finger injury soon. In his stead, Lucas Patrick proved to be a bit of a vulnerable link. He was a big part of the Packers’ struggles to move the ball on the ground.