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Closer Look at Packers First Round Pick, Eric Stokes

The Green Bay Packers had one of the top pass defenses in the league in terms of yards per game in 2020, but had a relatively mediocre 11 interceptions, tied for 20th in the NFL. The team addressed the need for more playmakers in the secondary with the selection of Eric Stokes with the 29th pick in the NFL Draft.

A two-year starter at Georgia, the 6’ 1”, 185-pound Stokes lined up at right corner in the Bulldogs’ 3-3-5 defensive scheme. A versatile player, Stokes quickly learned to corner position in the SEC after playing quarterback in high school. Stokes had his best season last year, intercepting four passes, returning two for touchdowns. Perhaps even more impressive is that Stokes allowed less than 40 percent completion percentage on balls thrown his way.

With the use of excellent speed, Stokes won’t get beat often on fly patterns. He had great football, body control and competitiveness. However, at times he can get overly aggressive and/or panic, as was seen with his nine penalties at the collegiate level. Stokes has a knack for the ball, and can play inside against slot receivers as well as outside.

Stokes can also be used on a secondary blitz since his straight-line speed is impressive and has shown to be a solid tackler, recording 78 in 31 games at Georgia. Likely to get beat off the line, at least early in his career, Stokes has tremendous speed to recover.
An All-SEC Team member last season, Stokes enters the NFL like competing for the number three corner spot behind Kevin King and All-Pro Jaire Alexander. He’s likely most suited early in his career to fill a role in the nickel defense.

Georgia defensive back Eric Stokes (27) attempts to intercept a pass intended for Tennessee wide receiver Marquez Callaway (1) during a game between Tennessee and Georgia in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday, October 5, 2019.

Packers’ general manager Brian Gutekunst looked at this pick for how it can help down the road. Realizing the team has only one corner under contract for next year, it was imperative to add depth. Gutekunst liked the progression he saw out of Stokes and particularly was impressive with his explosiveness and strength. He sees a lot of fight in Stokes, that we will give whatever he has on every snap. The 4.25 and 4.28 40-yard dash times at Georgia pro day indicates the world-class speed that Stokes possesses.

Some experts believe that Stokes lacks the ability in short areas, and not great at closing at the top of the routes. Of course, those are skills that Stokes can improve at the NFL level. For now. He is best suited for a zone-type defense where he can use his superior vision and speed to break on balls and make plays.

The Packers needed to address the secondary and couldn’t have done better with such a late pick in the first round. Stokes should see playing time early and often in his rookie season.

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Ed Rooney

Just a guy with too much free time trying to help out.

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21 Comments

  1. Mitch Anthony May 1, 2021

    If this can accelerate Kevin King to seeking a driving job with Schneider National, I’m all for it. Those trucks all have power steering so his shoulder will hold up.

    Reply
    1. PED May 2, 2021

      😂🤣😂

      Reply
  2. Mick May 1, 2021

    I think GB did the best they could with the 29th pick. Everyone of the CB’s in this draft, had a wart or two; either size concerns, or injuries. This was a need position and it needed to be addressed. In Kings 4 years, he has been injured, his play has been up and down. Some say it was because of the nagging back injury, but he’s been up and down before that. So, it’s hard to buy that excuse about his back.

    Reply
  3. PF4L May 1, 2021

    Well….The Packers were largely successful retaining most of their own by pushing cash down the road.
    But the biggest losses were in the O line. So what did that mean?
    That meant new needs was created coming into the draft.
    So far…The Packers now have used 2 draft picks to address those new needs.

    Here’s the thing….have you improved there?
    I’m not so sure you can improve replacing the #1 center in the league, plus losing Taylor and Wagner. Wagner wasn’t great, but he was serviceable.
    So in essence, were chasing down OL talent, trying to get as close as we can, to what we lost.
    You addressed what you needed to, but you didn’t improve over last season.
    .
    Which brings me to cornerback……
    It seems most people recognized a need at corner, during (because of) the NFCCG.
    So that was also new need.
    Some of us clearly knew it was a need going back at least a couple of years.
    The good news….IF….Stokes plays ANY better than King, you improved your team.
    .
    So we have 3 picks out of 4, dedicated to new needs from 2020.
    .
    That leads me to Amari Rodgers. I don’t know Amari Rodgers….at all
    I will say this…..he sure as hell can’t hurt.
    I stated i wanted a slot receiver, but maybe one taller than 5’9″…but…
    If he can get open, catch balls, gain YAC…maybe 800 yards, 7,8 TD’s…
    That’s a good 3rd round pick.
    .
    Has that 3rd round pick eased Rodgers off his stance? Highly doubtful.
    ***********************
    In related…..
    .
    Murphy put out a letter on the Packers website….
    I’ve brought up the pressure and stress they must be feeling at 1265 and that’s probably what motivated the letter.
    It says…..basically nothing other than the usual Company line we’ve heard from Gute.
    .
    My thoughts (speculation)……
    This situation was a pretty well kept off season secret.
    This isn’t something that just transpired Thursday.
    .
    I believe weeks, maybe months ago, Rodgers and his agent asked to be traded.
    I’m thinking the Packers brushed it off and called his bluff.
    As it got more serious over time
    It was reported that Gute, Murphy, and LaFluer all flew out to talk with Rodgers. They all went at 3 separate times, meaning some time had to go by. Indicating this has been out there awhile.
    .
    I’m guessing….but maybe Rodgers agent drew a line in the sand and it was draft day.
    It’s my belief (guess) that it was the end date for talking.
    I also believe the leak of this new information came from Rodgers camp because decisions have been made.
    .
    I just feel like….Rodgers doesn’t go public on this, unless he’s committed to it.
    .
    I could be wrong….but Rodgers never gave me a reason to doubt his word over 16 seasons.
    .
    Rodgers just isn’t any random player on this roster the last 16 years.
    .
    Be careful who you piss off.
    .
    Especially someone who made you look good and gave you job security.

    Reply
  4. Mick May 1, 2021

    On Packers Wire, Zack Kruse has an article out today on the Rodgers rift. It states Rodgers is unwilling to return to the Packers if Gute remains as GM. It’s quoted in that article, Rodgers is willing to take any measures necessary to get out of GB, including sitting out off season events, even retirement. It’s also reported Murphy is aware of Rodgers feelings towards Gute. Welcome to the hot seat Mark Murphy.

    Reply
    1. MMSUCKS May 1, 2021

      Murphy earned that hot seat with flying colors . . .

      Reply
    2. PF4L May 1, 2021

      I’ll wait and see if that report has any legs Mick.
      .
      It’s hard for me to believe that Charles Robinson from yahoo sports knows something, no other reporter knows.
      .
      If true..the Packers would not fire Gute. That just isn’t done under those scenario’s. Maybe if Rodgers had 10 years left…idk.
      .
      But again…if true….if i’m the Packers, i’m taking the best trade offer i can get.

      Reply
      1. PF4L May 1, 2021

        What’s ironic is…..lets say Rodgers retires, Gute stays…..
        .
        Gute isn’t out of the Woods yet….the performance of Jordan Love will ultimately decide this . If Love Flops out , Gute will have a cloud of bad ju ju around him where ever he goes. Same with Murphy, LaFluer will get a pass.
        .
        If Love becomes a Pro Bowl QB….Gute is vindicated and pick his job where ever he wants almost.
        ********************
        Remember back when…i discussed that meetings between Murphy, Gute, and LaFluer about drafting Love.
        And make no mistake…the topic of how Aaron Rodgers will react to that pick came up and was discussed.
        .
        I believe the real reason they didn’t talk to Rodgers about it is this….in the rare instance Love was picked before the Packers got to him.
        .
        That’s right people…i’m not just another pretty face :)

        Reply
    3. Cheese May 1, 2021

      I saw a headline saying that Rodgers won’t return unless Gute is fired. Good luck with that. Murphy fire someone? He would need a spine first.

      Reply
  5. Mitch Anthony May 2, 2021

    I’m still just a little ambivalent on Gute. Everyone knew that when he took over as GM he was going to have to face the issue of the transition from Aaron Rodgers and that could be problematic. They had history to guide them based on how the Favre to Rodgers thing had gone. As far as his drafting is concerned, some very good picks, some real head scratchers so it’s a push with me. I was always willing to judge the pick after a couple years to see if they could develop. The Nelson to Graham fiasco was one move I really hated. Just dumb.

    The guy that needs to be gone is Murphy. The ineptness of that guy as it pertains to the team on the field goes back a long way. Yeah sure, he may have done some things on the business end of things that impress the wonks who look at the books but, you’re in Green Bay man! You don’t think that fans love their Packers and spend gobs of money in Green Bay? Many would also succeed in his position with this team. God bless and keep the soul of Ted Thompson but we watched a man with an obviously diminishing spectrum of ableness do the job of GM years beyond his abilities. Keeping McCarthy around a bit too long can also be reasonably argued. The more that Murphy has actually meddled with the product on the field the more he has proven he shouldn’t be involved with actual football operations.

    If that headline was indeed true, then Rodgers is setting his sights too low.

    Reply
    1. PF4L May 2, 2021

      Well stated Mitch….

      Although i might have brought up Murphy’s time of how clueless he was concerning the team itself. Basically because of his willingness to let the operation run with no oversight or accountability.
      .
      Advance to 2018…..He’s told to remove Thompson. Then said that decision was “mutually” manifested in his talks with Ted. Bullshit.
      He then gets obsessed, with repeating how he is the one in charge at 1265. How he is the boss, how the final decisions all go through him with him making the final call.
      .
      It was sad to listen to and watch in a way, along with his bad forced jokes and his fake laugh accompanying them.
      .
      Watch the press conference introducing LaFluer….
      Murphy dominated it. Gute didn’t speak until after about 14 minutes into it after Murphy, and even then, Gute spoke for less than a minute.
      .
      Maybe Murphy took the training wheels off of Gute by now, it’s hard to tell. But Gute had little to no power when he became GM.
      .
      Mitch is right…Murphy has been a trainwreck in some aspect or another at various stages of his Presidency.
      .
      As i’ve noted…maybe that’s what you get when you hire someone as President and CEO with no NFL front office executive experience at all.
      .
      As far as Gute….He’s admitted to mistakes with Rodgers, so at least he’s making a public gesture and a hint of taking responsibility.
      But from where we sit….on the outside. We don’t know exactly what has transpired, we don’t know what has been said.
      Although we try to piece it together (including myself).
      But at the end of the day, we don’t know.
      .
      What we do know, is they’ve had 2 HOF QB’s…and now have had drama with both of them. a coincidence, or a pattern?
      .
      Like it or not…Todays elite athlete’s have voices in today’s world.
      .
      What’s funny to me is that Gute and Murphy, LaFluer have all come out, saying numerous times that Rodgers is the lifeblood of this team, that he is the leader, that he is the most important component of the team.
      .
      But behind the scenes, they don’t want to hear his thoughts or idea’s on the team. Players play.
      .
      So you have Packer managements perception of Rodgers in front of the camera, and the one in private.

      Reply
      1. PF4L May 2, 2021

        BTW….I am not dismissing Rodgers for any blame over this, it takes two and i’m pretty sure that he didn’t possibly handle every aspect of this the right way also.
        .
        But here’s the thing….since the night Rodgers was drafted, everyone in the world knows Rodgers quirks and personality. That hasn’t changed in the 16 years he’s been there has it?
        .
        So…..IF they did piss him off, and/or they did in fact disrespect him multiple times….then that’s on them to deal with, If that’s the dice they want to roll….then deal with it. Rodgers demeanor (personality and ego) wasn’t a secret to them.

        Reply
        1. Mick May 2, 2021

          Good point PF4L. Both sides are to blame, and let’s not brush aside that Rodgers agent might the biggest —– soup stirrer!

          Reply
          1. PF4L May 2, 2021

            Rodgers is too smart, his agent isn’t making any final decisions.
            .
            The problem i see with Rodgers, is that he just loves to play football.
            I’m not so sure i can see him…just sitting home watching the Packers play in week 1.

            Reply
      2. Mick May 2, 2021

        You guys are correct. Murphy should keep his hands out of the football operations, after all; what the hell did you hire Gute for—– in the 1st place? Kind of reminds me of J. Jones down in Dallas. Like a father figure saying to his new Gm; here’s the keys to the car, but if you go anywhere——– OK it with me 1st. As president, the should be overlooking the business side of the organization (which he excels at); and trust his GM to over see the football operation. And if that GM isn’t capable of doing THE JOB, then Murphy needs to interject.

        Reply
        1. PF4L May 2, 2021

          Mick…you’re correct….
          .
          But…As President of the Packers Murphy still needs to at least have his eye on football operations, that’s his job also.
          By that i mean….if he see’s a problem, it’s his job to inject himself and deal with it.
          .
          He went from one extreme….not knowing what is going on, or caring…..to He’s the Boss, nothing gets done without his say so.
          .
          Lol….I wrote this without finishing reading your article, and we both used the word interject, which is spot on.
          .
          I’ll leave it as is…lol
          Great minds….great minds :)

          Reply
  6. Howard May 2, 2021

    I think Stokes will be a good perimeter corner. The true speed can’t hurt. Stokes showed speed and a quick drive to the ball on film. Stokes showed the same speed at his pro day as he did on film. Stokes pro day and film indicates Stokes does not have the best change of direction ability. I don’t see Stokes as a slot corner. To get early playing time Stokes is going to need to play the perimeter. Does that mean Alexander goes inside in nickel?
    .
    There were several plays in college that Stokes was beat at the line of scrimmage with receiver change of direction movements. Stokes used his speed to recover, but on many of those plays the college QB did not look Stokes way early and when they did Stokes was close in coverage by using his speed. Many college QBs would consider those receivers covered. In the NFL those receivers would be considered wide open and the ball would be going to Stokes coverage responsibility early.
    .
    Stokes admits he needs to work on his technique. That should help on Stokes getting beat early, but Stokes is probably still going to struggle with his change of direction agility. If Stokes sees the field a lot there is a good chance Stokes is tops on the Packers in Ints. and giving up the highest QB completion % this year. Teams are going after Stokes. Stokes is probably going to get beat early. Stokes is also going to receive plenty of opportunities to take away the ball with his catch-up speed.

    Reply
    1. Mick May 2, 2021

      Ya, it will be interesting to see how they utilize Stokes. I would think that Jerry Gray would mold this guy into a quality player and put him in the best position to succeed in the secondary. Also, I’m interested to see what Joe Barry brings to this defense.

      Reply
  7. PF4L May 2, 2021

    I think you leave Alexander the hell alone.
    .
    Stokes was picked for a reason. If King didn’t play like he did in the NFCCG, we wouldn’t be talking about Stokes today.
    .
    I’d like to think that Stokes was drafted to be the starter.
    .
    If Stokes is better than King at any given point…game #1…#4..#7..that is when you start him.
    .
    I think you play Stokes whenever you can. He’s a first round pick, we’re afraid to play him in the slot because he gets beat early?
    King has always got beat early, and in his 4th season, his technique is still bad. (We all watched the game).
    .
    Personally, i want to see Stokes a starter by at least week 4
    The way i see it, if King can start (week 3) his rookie season, why can’t Stokes?
    .
    Stokes damn well better start sometime his first season, do we need any more 1st round picks riding the bench?

    Reply
    1. Howard May 2, 2021

      Who said anyone was afraid? Stokes is going to help the team at the perimeter more than slot, early in his career and throughout his career. It is not about being afraid, it is about what is best for the team.

      Reply
    2. rebelgb May 2, 2021

      ^^ This 100%. Well said.

      Reply

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