Packers 2021 roster preview: Will Eric Stokes start?

Eric Stokes (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Eric Stokes (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Green Bay Packers needed to draft a cornerback early, and they did just that by selecting Eric Stokes in the first round.

Should we expect Stokes to start immediately or be eased into his role in Joe Barry’s defense?

Can Stokes make a similarly impressive start to his career with the Packers as Jaire Alexander did back in 2018?

2020 stats

Stokes played in nine games in his final season at Georgia, making four pass defenses and an impressive four interceptions in that time. He returned two of those picks for touchdowns.

Will he make the roster?

Yes, yes, and yes. Even if Stokes isn’t a starter on defense right away, there’s no way the Packers’ first-round pick doesn’t make the 53-man roster.

What to expect in 2021

Stokes will have a role to play in Green Bay’s defense this season, there’s no doubt about that. But whether he’s a starter at any point is another question, and will be determined by how quickly he can adjust to the NFL.

Prior to the draft, Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline wrote that “Stokes comes with a large upside”.

There’s no doubt that Stokes is a talented player with the potential to become a starter for the Packers. Whether that happens this season, though, remains to be seen.

The team’s decision to re-sign Kevin King to a one-year deal makes sense as it takes the pressure off needing to throw Stokes into a starting role early on. If Stokes needs some more time to develop his game before playing a huge number of snaps opposite Jaire Alexander, then King is capable of remaining a starter until Stokes is ready.

Stokes adds speed to the Packers’ secondary and he has the talent to contribute early on. Don’t be surprised if he makes a couple of game-changing plays, too. With four interceptions and two touchdowns last season, it’s clear Stokes can come up with a key turnover when the ball is thrown his way.