It is no secret that the Packers have a lockdown corner in Jaire Alexander. What people didn’t expect was the Packers to find another. Eric Stokes was the Packers 2021 1st round pick and quickly became an important player in the defense. In terms of rookies, he often gets overlooked by the likes of Micah Parsons and Patrick Surtain. These players had amazing seasons but no one seems to be talking about how good of a season Stokes had. With his 2021 season, Stokes has the ability to become the other Packers lockdown corner.
Stokes’ 2021 Season
When Stokes was drafted, he was to play opposite Jaire Alexander and provide an upgrade at the CB2 spot. He was quickly thrust into a larger role. Injuries in the secondary, including Alexander thrust him into a larger role and many questioned whether the rookie would be able to step into a CB1 role so early in his career. Stokes owned the role. He was 1st on the team in pass deflections and tied for 11th in the NFL. According to stathead.com, he was ranked 4th in lowest completion percentage when targeted at 49.5%. He only allowed a completion on about 1 of every 12 snaps. Often lost is how good of a tackler he is. He only allowed 2.69 yards after the catch per reception. If the receiver did catch the ball, Stokes made sure the receiver didn’t get any extra yards. Stokes provides the complete CB package.
Outlook for 2022
Stokes’ performance is one of the reasons I am so high on the Packers defense going into the season. Jaire Alexander will most likely take the WR1 meaning that Stokes can shut down the second best option on the field as well. Teams will be forced to go to their third and fourth option where Rasul Douglas and Darnell Savage will be waiting. Teams are going to have a tough time moving the ball against this secondary.
I also wonder if Stokes’ performance gave the Packers front office more confidence in their two first round picks. LB Quay Walker and DL Devonte Wyatt are both Georgia products. The fact that Stokes came out so pro ready gives many confidence that both Walker and Wyatt will be able to step into immediate impact roles. Opposing offenses will have a tough time moving the ball if the Packers keep finding pro ready rookies in the draft.
Stokes had a solid rookie season but there is so much room to grow. If he builds on what he has already built, the Packers will have two shutdown corners on the field.
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