Green Bay Packers Land Cornerback in Latest 2021 NFL Mock Draft

Georgia defensive back Eric Stokes (27) reacts after making a play during a game between Tennessee and Georgia in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday, October 5, 2019.Utvgeorgia1005
Georgia defensive back Eric Stokes (27) reacts after making a play during a game between Tennessee and Georgia in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday, October 5, 2019.Utvgeorgia1005 /

If we are compiling our lists of biggest positional needs for the Green Bay Packers to address this offseason, I’m going to guess that many of you have cornerback at the top, or at least very close. I know I sure do.

Kevin King is set to hit free agency and has ultimately played his final snaps in Green Bay, leaving the Packers with very few options at the boundary cornerback position. There is, of course, Jaire Alexander, but whoever his running mate ends up being should be prepared for ample targets because opposing quarterbacks aren’t going to be throwing Alexander’s direction very often.

The current roster options for the Green Bay Packers include Josh Jackson, who filled in for King last season while he was injured, but by the end of the year, he was a regular healthy scratch. When on the field, Jackson wasn’t terrible by any means, but he still struggled, allowing 15 receptions on 22 targets, although for only 7.9 yards per catch. But he also gave up a touchdown, had just one pass-breakup, and again penalties were an issue.

Who knows, maybe Jackson is revitalized in Joe Barry’s Vic Fangio-style system, but he’s now entering Year 4, and that’s not exactly something that Green Bay should be banking on.

The other options are all quite inexperienced. There is 2019 sixth-round pick Ka’dar Hollman, 2020 undrafted rookie Stanford Samuels, and primary special teams player KeiVarae Russell. So, yeah, the Packers absolutely need to address the cornerback position this offseason.

I recently wrote that if they are able to make an addition or two in free agency, that they should pursue a cornerback, so they aren’t relying solely on the draft–there’s simply just too much risk involved with that. But even if they are able to sign a veteran, addressing this position in the draft is still a must.

And a recent mock draft from Dane Brugler of The Athletic ($) does just that. With the Green Bay Packers on the clock at pick 29, Brugler has them selecting cornerback Eric Stokes from Georgia. Here is what he had to say about the selection:

"“Although he is still discovering his potential at the position, Stokes is an intriguing prospect because he has length, ball awareness and he is one of the fastest players in this draft class. He checks a lot of boxes at a position of need for the Packers.”"

At 6’1″ – 185 pounds, Stokes has good size, and he’s an experienced player as well, having appeared in 36 games over his three-year career and totaling nearly 1,600 career snaps.

Over his career, Stokes has been targeted 118 times and allowed a completion rate of just 53.4 percent and only 9.7 yards per catch. He also has 15 pass breakups, four interceptions, just three touchdowns given up, and a passer rating when targeted of 62.9, with a majority of his snaps coming out wide, although he’s taken some from the slot as well.

This past season specifically, Stokes tallied three pressures, a completion rate of 57.1 percent on 28 targets with four interceptions, two pass breakups, and one touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus ($).

For a closer look at Stokes’ game and what he could bring to the Green Bay Packers, here is what Drae Harris of The Draft Network had to say in his pre-draft scouting report:

"“From 2019 to 2020, Eric Stokes has certainly improved at being more opportunistic with regards to securing turnovers. He can mirror from a press position, but he can afford to clean up his technique—particularly his eye discipline in man coverage and getting “grabby” at the top of the route.He has shown the ability to play in man or zone from a press and occasional off position, but he lacks elite play speed. He’s not a dynamic closer at the top of the route and lacks elite short-area, stop-and-start agility. His skill set may be best suited in a predominantly zone situation where he can play with vision and utilize his ball skills to make plays.”"

Stokes’ on the field numbers are excellent, but how he measures in the athletic testing events will be crucial. As we all know, the Green Bay Packers under GM Brian Gutekunst love to draft top athletes at their respective decisions. But above, Harris mentions Stokes lacking “elite play speed,” and in his more detailed report, he also notes a lack of “dynamic agility,” as well as not being “explosive” in jump ball situations.

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There is certainly a long way to go between now and draft night, and as always, a lot is going to change. But with the Green Bay Packers in desperate need of a boundary cornerback, Eric Stokes is certainly a name worth keeping your eyes on during the pre-draft process.