Packers: 7 Takeaways & What Eric Stoke Pick Means for GB

Dec 12, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Eric Stokes (27) returns an interception against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 12, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Eric Stokes (27) returns an interception against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

After what was an eventful day, to say the least, the Green Bay Packers made their first-round selection, landing Eric Stokes, one of the cornerbacks from Georgia. While there is plenty of time to deep dive into this selection, here are seven initial takeaways from the pick and what it means for the Green Bay Packers moving forward.

This was a very Gutey pick

While Brian Gutekunst only has three full drafts under his belt as GM of the Green Bay Packers, it’s very clear that he has a type–and Eric Stokes checks off most of those boxes. For starters, he tested incredibly well athletically, running a 4.25 40-yard dash and posting a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.38 out of 10. Prior to this selection, 22 of Gutey’s 25 RAS eligible draft picks have scored 8 or higher.

Stokes also plays a premier position–since 2005, the Packers have spent just one combined first-round draft pick on either a receiver, linebacker, interior offensive lineman, or a tight end. Stokes is also fairly young, having just turned 22 last month. From 2016 to 2020, every Packers’ pick 33 or lower in the draft was 21 years old or younger. So Stokes doesn’t quite meet that mark, but he’s very close.

Green Bay Packers likely not done at CB

There is the obvious that the Packers needed to bolster their cornerback room for 2021–and they certainly did. Stokes will come in and compete for CB2 snaps right away—what his role ends up being, we will see. But looking ahead to 2022, prior to this selection, it’s not as if the cornerback room was all of a sudden going to look better. In fact, it was going to be in worse shape.

Jaire Alexander was the only player on the roster — before this pick, of course — that we knew would be on the team in 2022. Literally, it’s possible that everyone else would be gone. So while Stokes is a fantastic addition, the cornerback room still needs more reliable options moving forward.

The board fell nearly perfect for the Packers

In terms of who was available, through the mid-20s and when the Green Bay Packers were on the clock, it really couldn’t have been drawn up much better. Until picks 26 and 27, Greg Newsome and Rashod Bateman were still available, and when the Packers were up, some potential picks included Teven Jenkins, Trevon Moehrig, Christian Barmore, and Elijah Moore, to name a few. I imagine trading down was in play for Gutey.

No WR or LB…again

These two positions were mocked to the Green Bay Packers quite often this offseason–and I do get why. But when it comes to taking a receiver or linebacker in the first round, I’ll say now what I’ve said all offseason: I’ll believe it when I see it. As I noted above, the Packers value the premier positions in Round 1 — cornerback, quarterback, offensive tackle, safety, defensive tackle — and they just don’t stray away from that.

Now, I will say that if Bateman were available, perhaps that would have changed things–there was a lot of smoke connecting him to Green Bay. However, ultimately, that didn’t happen, and the streak of not taking a first-round receiver continues.

Day 2 Needs and Options

As I said, I won’t be surprised if the Green Bay Packers add another cornerback at some point in the draft, but receiver and offensive tackle are the two biggest needs remaining. You can throw interior defensive lineman in there as well; however, with this not being a deep class, the value in Rounds 2 and 3 just might not be there either.

Some names to keep your eyes on include Christian Barmore, Elijah Moore, Dyami Brown, Nico Collins, Terrace Marshall, Liam Eichenberg, Teven Jenkins, Brady Christensen, Trevon Moehrig, Samuel Cosmi, Dillon Radunz, and several others.

No Trade on Day 1 but perhaps on Day 2?

This was the first of Gutey’s four drafts that the Green Bay Packers didn’t move up in Round 1, but I certainly think it’s in play on Day 2. With less information on these prospects due to 2020 opt-outs and COVID restrictions, Gutey may be more willing to part with those mid-round selections. On top of that, it feels like a run on receivers and offensive tackles are coming, which could spark some action as well.

Stokes will provide special teams help as well

Stokes took 230 snaps on special teams while at Georgia, making several impact plays along the way. While we have to wait and see how he will be utilized on defense, he is someone who can make an immediate impact and upgrade this struggling Green Bay Packers special teams unit.

What are the Packers getting in Stokes?

Green Bay is getting an experienced player with over 1,500 career snaps at Georgia, as well as someone who has been tested against some of the best receivers that college football has to offer. At 6’0″ – 194 pounds, Stokes has good size and length, and he tested extremely well at his Pro-Day.

He showcased his ball skills, coming away with four interceptions — all of which came in 2020 — and nine pass breakups over the last two years. On top of that, he has flashed some serious shutdown ability, tallying five games in 2020 where he allowed 10 yards or fewer per PFF ($$). Stokes is a scheme versatile defender, who can play both man and zone coverages, but is believed to be best suited for zone–which we will see a lot of under Joe Barry.

Stokes will compete for starting snaps immediately on defense and could be a core special teams player as well. Along with Jaire Alexander, the addition of Stokes will hopefully provide some needed stability to the cornerback room in the coming years.

Tony Pauline’s Pre-draft report on Eric Stokes:

"“Positives: Underrated cornerback with the size and play speed to start in the NFL. Physical, battles opponents throughout the route, and tracks the ball in the air. Possesses excellent length, effectively diagnoses the action, and has a closing burst. Possesses good hands for the interception. Easily runs downfield with opponents. Gives effort defending the run and wraps up tackling.Negatives: Doesn’t flip his hips off the line and loses a half-step transitioning with opponents. Gets a little grabby in coverage.Analysis: Stokes possesses terrific measurables and has shown developing ball skills. He’s effective facing the action while also displaying the ability to make plays with his back to the ball. Stokes comes with a large upside and offers potential in nickel packages early in his NFL career, and he could eventually develop into a first-team player."