Packers: Eric Stokes’ rookie season went perfectly
Whenever people hear the term “perfect”, they immediately think of the best possible thing. Eric Stokes had a perfect rookie season for the Green Bay Packers. Not a great rookie season. Not an amazing rookie season. A perfect one. It was perfect because he didn’t just have good moments and make strong plays. He had some rough moments too. That is why it was perfect.
The former Georgia CB played well as a rookie. He played 92% of the snaps. He finished first in the NFL among rookie cornerbacks in pass break-ups and third in passer rating against. He also allowed a completion percentage of just 46.3, which was fifth-best in the entire NFL. Stokes flashed his 4.2 speed. He showed his star potential in year one.
Of course, every young player goes through some adversity. He did allow five receptions of at least 20 yards. He had just one interception when he had many more chances to add to that total. He got burned a few times. But that is okay. That happens.
This is exactly the type of season that Stokes needed as a rookie. That’s why it was “perfect”. His potential was immediately there. He took his lumps but responded. He faced the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Ja’Marr Chase, Cooper Kupp, D.K. Metcalf, Deebo Samuel, Allen Robinson, Odell Beckham Jr., Justin Jefferson, and Jarvis Landry. Even Davante Adams (in training camp).
Stokes survived the gauntlet that usually is taken on by a No. 1 CB. He got better and better each week. He grew with his technique and let his athleticism do the rest. He also played most of this season without his running mate in Jaire Alexander. Rasul Douglas didn’t come to Green Bay until October. He did the heavy lifting for the cornerback room and definitely played above expectations…in just his first season!
Keep in mind that Eric Stokes, Jaire Alexander, and Rasul Douglas all played together in just one game last season. It was the Packers’ divisional round loss to San Francisco. What gets lost there is that CB trio and the Green Bay defense dominated.
The reason Stokes’ first season in the NFL went perfectly was because he did the heavy lifting, flashed potential, made mistakes and got stronger because of them. Think of an undefeated team losing its first game.
As much as teams hate to lose, that gives them a wake-up call. What happened before the Chicago Bulls went on to three-peat for the second time in the late 90s? They lost to the Orlando Magic in 1995.
If you think Eric Stokes was good and showed his potential, just wait for year two in the Packers’ defense.