Packers Deep Dive - First Round Draft Pick Eric Stokes

Dusty digs into the film on 1st round cornerback Eric Stokes

/don't say it don't say it don't say it

/adjusts rainbow suspenders

So! Is everyone here Stoked about Stokes?

/exits stage swiftly while being pelted with tomatoes


On Day 1, the Packers stayed in the 29 spot and took Eric Stokes, cornerback out of Georgia. Unlike last year, the pick didn't produce a collective gasp from the state of Wisconsin. Cornerback was seen as a need for the Packers even before the NFC Championship Game. And, while it might not have been the name some of us expected, taking a cornerback with the first pick is something that makes a lot of sense.

So, now that he is a member of the Green Bay Packers, who is Eric Stokes? 

But an athletic score is just an athletic score. How does he look on the field? That's what we're going to dig into today.

The Bad

I'm an optimist by nature, so if I'm going to highlight some bad plays, I like to put them first so that we end on a good note. 

Stokes didn't put many bad things on tape, but there are some negatives that show up.

One of the main issues with Stokes is his play at the top of short and intermediate routes. He can be a little stiff at the top and struggles to recover. A word I keep hearing in regards to Stokes is that he's "sticky" in coverage, but that word does not describe his skills in this specific area.

On this play, he's looking to pin the receiver to the outside. When the route cuts back to the inside, Stokes can't get turned and resorts to attempting to grab. 

He may not always grab, but it's something that shows up more than once. The receiver puts on the brakes and Stokes flies by. He ends up recovering, but it's far from a smooth process. An on-time throw would easily beat this. It's something he's going to need to clean up at the next level or he'll find himself targeted with in-cutters and curls.

The Good

Playing for Kirby Smart, Stokes is used to playing in a complex defense. While there will be a mental adjustment to the NFL, the learning curve is not quite as steep as it may be if he played elsewhere. There is likely to be a lot of match coverages in Barry's defense, and that's an area Stokes is already well-versed in.

The Bulldogs are showing a two-high safety look pre-snap, but those safeties shift away from Stokes' side after the snap. Stokes' assignment is to carry the vertical route from his position. If neither of the routes to his side go vertical, then he is to fall into a deep zone coverage to his side. In his drop, you can see him reading the releases of both the outside receiver and the slot receiver. He continues his drop to his deep zone while reading. When it's clear the outside receiver is running a vertical route, Stokes seamlessly transitions from a deep zone drop to man coverage.

In this play against Alabama, Stokes is reading the release of Cameron Latu [81]. He's initially looking to carry Latu vertically up the field. Once Latu commits to the crossing route, Stokes passes him off and drops deep and under the post. 

But it's not all about what someone is doing vertically. On this play, they're looking to trap Alabama. Stokes is playing outside and it looks initially like he is going to carry the outside receiver vertically up the field. With the in-line receiver running a short, out-breaking route underneath, this could be easy money for the quarterback. After a few steps back, Stokes falls off the vertical route - which is now in the domain of the deep safety - and steps into the path of the out-breaker.

Of course, one of the biggest traits Stokes brings to the table is his speed. He ran a 4.25 40 at his Pro Day, and it shows up on tape. The Crimson Tide are selling the run, then sneaking Jaylen Waddle [17] through the line and releasing vertically up the seam. Stokes starts this play on the outside and is reading the backfield. He shuffles at the snap, looking to see what happens with the possibility of a run. When he sees Waddle streaking through the line, Stokes bails and sprints to keep up. Waddle is no slouch in the speed department himself - he ran a 4.37 40 - but Stokes easily recovers and catches up with Waddle down the field; no easy feat from his somewhat flat-footed position.

It's because of his speed and ability to recover that allows him to take some chances. On this play, he reads the slant and immediately drives to undercut it for a potential interception. When the ball isn't delivered on the slant, he peels off and plays over the top, putting himself in a position to make a tackle if the ball comes out in a later window on the route.

Overall takeaway

There are certainly some things to clean up - and there will be some bumps along the way as a result - but between his speed and intelligence, I believe he's going to turn into a very good starter opposite Jaire Alexander. His college alignment had him playing strictly outside, and that's where he profiles best at in the NFL, as well. Some patience will be required, but, by the end of his rookie season, I think everyone is going to be extremely happy with the pick. 


Albums listened to: Lord Huron - Strange Trails; Luna Halo - Luna Halo; Julien Baker - Little Oblivions; Rage Against the Machine - Evil Empire; Haley Heynderickx - I Need to Start a Garden; Manchester Orchestra - The Million Masks Of God; HY-FY - HY-FY

-------------------------------

Dusty Evely is a film analyst for Cheesehead TV. He can be heard talking about the Packers on Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter at @DustyEvely or email at [email protected].

14 points

Comments (19)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
LambeauPlain's picture

May 02, 2021 at 06:42 pm

Smart and fast is a good combo for an NFL CB. I think coach Gray is going to love coaching him...and Stokes is going to enjoy the DB room and practice field with Alexander the Great.

I know his nickname is "Dirty Red"...but this might be a feisty and fierce warrior backfield of Alexander the Great and Eric the Red soon.

11 points
11
0
greengold's picture

May 02, 2021 at 06:59 pm

Thanks for sharing this deep dive, Dusty. Great to see, and he looks like a gem. Our DB room will be first rate this year. Can’t wait to see this in action, especially the coverage sacks that could become a regular occurrence.

Taking sacks on your QB is the greatest, most consistent indicator of a team incurring a loss.

3 points
3
0
Bure9620's picture

May 02, 2021 at 07:11 pm

If he is asked to play quarters or match zone he can be great. If I am an offensive coordinator I run shallow crosses and digs at him ALL day long. I think Stokes will take his lumps as a rookie

0 points
1
1
splitpea1's picture

May 02, 2021 at 10:08 pm

The second clip did look bad. Film study and experience....and the speed will hopefully bridge the gap. King plays so far off anyway, and he doesn't have the speed to close, so we might as well get Stokes in there ASAP.

2 points
2
0
The_Justicar's picture

May 02, 2021 at 07:24 pm

All I wanted to say was nice job on pulling film vs the best two offenses Stokes faced last year. Many clips of highlights I see are draft picks vs over matched teams. Stokes vs Toney and Waddle and Smith and Pitts and Trask and Mac Jones, etc.... all drafted in 1st or second round so comparable to nfl talent. Probably a very good comparison for what we may see when Stokes is in NFL vs Stokes plastering receivers from Vandy or Western Carolina or some other low talent teams. If Stokes can play vs these Bama and Florida receivers he should transition well to nfl.

12 points
12
0
stockholder's picture

May 02, 2021 at 08:11 pm

I like the speed. Thats it. I don't like grabbing. I don't like sloppy. And I don't like giving up on King. The packers have "cornered" the market. Yet ,I have seen so many broken hearts with them. I gave up. This is going to take time. And it's time that didn't fit the window of #12. Not to mention a few others. The controversy won't be that the packers needed a CB. It will be what they could of had. And you know I'm referring to Barmore. The positive with stokes is; he went against the best Wrs coming in the NFL. And that might just be where we finally luck out. But- If he's going to wear #21. The packers have a vivid imagination. Because Nobody was better then Woodson.

-11 points
3
14
PewAuKeeFan's picture

May 02, 2021 at 09:49 pm

(scratching head.... and then scratching again)

1 points
2
1
jeremyjjbrown's picture

May 03, 2021 at 06:46 am

After a few too many post?

0 points
0
0
PeteK's picture

May 03, 2021 at 10:08 am

That's understandable, but at the least he will be an improvement over Sullivan or give us an option that will improve with time. King is in the mix and if plays near 2019 this defense could take off .

0 points
0
0
PewAuKeeFan's picture

May 02, 2021 at 09:47 pm

Thanks Dusty. You guys are the best - you don't keep us waiting long :)

1 points
1
0
L's picture

May 02, 2021 at 10:55 pm

Me too.
Hope we’re right.

1 points
1
0
NickPerry's picture

May 03, 2021 at 06:23 am

The Packers have been blessed with two very good CB coaches. Whatever Stokes may not be perfect at now, I believe Gray will help him get cleaned up in no time at all. Ovdrall I ike the pick. It filled an obvious need and Stokes was projected to go anywhere between the Packers pick and about the 40th pick so the value is fine.

My ONLY question so far with Gutes selections are WHY so many O-Lineman? They've picked up more as UDFA too. It makes me think Hnason and the kid from Indiana from last years class whose name escaped me and I don't feel like looking up may not be around in 2021. BUT Runyan seemed pretty damn solid so it's going to be interesting.

One thing that's certain, no matter WHO'S the Packers QB in 2021 and beyond is going to have a hell of an O-Line.

1 points
1
0
Guam's picture

May 03, 2021 at 07:42 am

I liked the Stokes selection as well - hopefully King can move to slot corner.

I thought the Packers needed an OT, yet they took multiple interior offensive linemen. Does that mean Jenkins/Nijman/Runyon are ready to play tackle in the NFL? The Packers will need at least two of those three to play tackle along with Turner at the start of the season since Bahk likely won't be ready. Since Nijman is exclusively an OT, I suspect it is Runyon moving to OT which implies the need for more IOL.

Hanson did not show much last year and the Packers may not know what they have in Stepaniak (Indiana kid) yet since he was activated late last year after spending the past year recovering from an ACL injury.

0 points
0
0
PeteK's picture

May 03, 2021 at 10:14 am

It will open up some good competition and depth. I'm also worried about that RT position, but feel Runyon will win the battle. At the least, I hope Myers plays well and wins the C position so that we can keep our middle consistent.

0 points
0
0
jeremyjjbrown's picture

May 03, 2021 at 06:48 am

Excellent stuff again Dusty. Makes me excited for some more if your so generous.

3 points
3
0
Booner's picture

May 03, 2021 at 08:21 am

He will get a lot of reps next season with Love as our QB. Three and out punt!

-3 points
0
3
ImaPayne's picture

May 03, 2021 at 08:34 am

Stokes is very fast vertical wise if covering someone speeding down field. I read his three cone time was horrid and his lateral speed was even worse. Thus you got a one trick poney who cant cover guys cutting across the grain and his reation time may be worse then Kings. Analyst thought this pick was a reach at best.

0 points
0
0
PeteK's picture

May 03, 2021 at 10:17 am

Excellent film work with balance. If I may suggest, Amari Rodgers next.

0 points
0
0
PatrickGB's picture

May 03, 2021 at 01:14 pm

Dusty I love your work and insights. I see a lot of potential with this kid. Low floor, high ceiling.

0 points
0
0