With 2021 NFL Draft grades being handed out with reckless abandon and premature conclusions drawn about every player and draft class, the truth is nobody really knows who hit the draft out of the park and who struck out. We won’t know for a few years down the road and even then some of the details will need to be worked out.
The same goes for Erick Stokes, the Green Bay Packers’ top pick selected at 29th overall in the first round. Stokes was all over the place on analyst’s boards with most draft gurus feeling like Green Bay reached for their first pick. Time will determine if that’s the truth.
Stokes is a classic high-risk, high-reward pick for the Packers. He has all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL including good size (6-foot-1 and 194 pounds), great straight-line speed and enough strength to be a press-man corner. He’s not without warts, however, as his physicality draws a lot of attention from the officials. He also needs to improve his agility and ability to stay with wide receivers in and out of their breaks. There’s certainly a path for him to become much better than current Packers’ cornerback Kevin King and there’s a realistic path for him to become much worse. Again, time will tell.
The Green Bay Packers’ 2021 first-round draft pick Eric Stokes will have his career tied to those selected after him in the draft.
Time will also tell us if Green Bay made the right decision to draft Stokes or if they should’ve gone with one of the other useful players still remaining on the board. And there were a lot of them. Guys they could’ve selected instead of stokes include cornerback Tyson Campbell (33rd overall pick), wide receiver Elijah Moore (34th overall pick), defensive lineman Christian Barmore (38th overall pick), and offensive tackle Teven Jenkins (39th overall selection).
Each of those players fit a need for the Packers and could’ve easily been their man instead of Stokes. Many thought Green Bay would go with one of those guys and it was a mild surprise when Stokes was the man.
It’s far too early to tell if they made the right pick at this time, but there are plenty of reasons to trust the draft board of general manager Brian Gutekunst and the Packers’ front office over the likes of ESPN and The Athletic. However it plays out, we will be looking back on this pick in three to five years and comparing Stokes’ progress to that of the guys drafted just after him.