Last season, Eric Stokes proved himself to be a great first-round selection for the Green Bay Packers, coming in and dominating in the #2 spot for an injured Jaire Alexander.
In his rookie season, Stokes allowed only 49.5% of catches to be completed (eighth best in the league) with 511 yards and three touchdowns allowed, per Pro Football Reference.
Coming out of Georgia, Stokes was rated highly and was an above-average prospect with some downsides to his play in college.
Plus, he was young and declared for the draft following his Junior season. Stokes was projected to go in the early second round, but the Packers took a shot, taking him with the 29th overall pick.
Stokes came into the season as the third cornerback on the depth chart.
Rasul Douglas had a breakout season and Kevin King played better than usual in the #3 spot.
What made Eric Stokes so good during his rookie season?
One of the reasons why Stokes was so good was that he wasn’t easily fooled on routes. Instead of looking for head movements on two-step routes, like most rookies would do, Stokes looked at the hips of receivers rather than their head. A practice often used by basketball players when in isolation.
In press coverage (which he lined up in often during the 2021 season), Stokes stayed glued to the receiver without providing contact that could be flagged.
During his game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Stokes had a heads-up play in the red zone where he bit on a zig route and instead of allowing the touchdown, changed course and caused a pass interference, stopping the touchdown because the receiver was distracted looking for a flag.
Many times during the season, Stokes went head-to-head with star receivers like Ja’Marr Chase and Deebo Samuel. During the Week 5 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, there were a couple plays where Stokes was burnt by Chase and allowed a pass to come his way, but he was able to close the gap and make plays on the ball despite being behind.
Stokes ran a 4.25 40-yard dash at the combine which is an excellent speed for any position and an amazing speed for cornerback.
His positioning was excellent, he was always where the ball was thrown. If he allowed a pass, he was there to make the tackle, but as mentioned earlier, Stokes allowed less than half of the passes that came his way to be caught.
Stokes looks poised to have another great season playing with an amazing Packers defense. With the re-signing of Rasul Douglas, it looks like Stokes will be a #3 corner on the Packers defense.