Packers: Aaron Rodgers Tests Eric Stokes to Make Him Better Every Day

Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes (21) is shown during a mandatory minicamp Tuesday, June 8, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.Cent02 7g52wmyz3j517rma9hjf Original
Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes (21) is shown during a mandatory minicamp Tuesday, June 8, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.Cent02 7g52wmyz3j517rma9hjf Original /

For Green Bay Packers rookie cornerback Eric Stokes, he’s had a tremendous opportunity in front of him early on in training camp to showcase his abilities as CB2 with Kevin King sidelined, but also the opportunity to take some much-needed additional reps with the starters.

Green Bay drafted Stokes with the 29th pick in this year’s draft out of Georgia. He saw a bulk of his playing time over his final two seasons and was very steady. He was targeted 93 times during that span, allowing a completion rate of just 56.9 percent with only 9.5 yards per catch. He also came away with four interceptions and nine pass breakups.

In fact, one of his more notable stat lines was that Stokes allowed less than 10 receiving yards in five of his nine games this past season with the Bulldogs, according to PFF ($$). Oftentimes, opposing quarterbacks wouldn’t even look Stokes’ direction–an impressive feat against a stout group of SEC wide receivers.

However, the NFL is a different ball game, and there is a learning curve for everyone involved–especially when you have Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams going after you in practice.

Stokes has taken his lumps, to say the least. As noted by Pete Dougherty of Packers News, on a few occasions, he was beaten on a slant route by Marquez Valdes-Scantling that went for a long touchdown. At one time, on back-to-back plays, Rodgers threw back shoulder passes to Adams while Stokes was in coverage. Allen Lazard would also take it to the rookie on an in-breaking route as well–and there are more examples; these are just a few of them.

Talk about a ‘Welcome to the NFL’ type of moment for Stokes.

But as always, there is a method to the madness; the Green Bay Packers want to test the rookie. During one practice over the weekend, Rodgers was seen with his arm around Stokes, letting him know that he just wants the young cornerback to be the best that he can be:

"“He was just pretty much telling me that he was gonna make me better day in, day out,” Stokes said via “If I got any questions, please don’t be hesitant to ask him anything. We all got one goal in mind. It doesn’t matter. He’s just trying to make me the best person I can be.”"

For Stokes, he is trying to absorb everything that he can, turning to All-Pros Davante Adams and Jaire Alexander when he has questions, and also having a short-term memory–whether the last play was good or bad, with Matt LaFleur adding that “he’s not afraid to make a mistake.”

"“I’m going to come out and if I lose the rep then, ‘You got me on this one, but guess what, I’m going to get you on another one,’ said Stokes via Packers News. “I’m just going to keep that competitive nature, that competitive edge to where it doesn’t matter who it is in front of me, I feel like I should win day in and day out.”"

With all that said, it’s not as if things have been all bad for Stokes–that isn’t the case whatsoever. He has forced a few incompletions while covering Adams, and as Dougherty also points out, Stokes flashed that speed of his by sticking with Valdes-Scantling on a deep route, which LaFleur was impressed with. He also forced another incompletion on a crossing route to Equanimeous St. Brown.–and again, just like above with the miscues, there are other examples of his successes.

For any rookie, these ups and downs are to be expected, but Stokes has the opportunity to learn from the two of the best in the game in Rodgers and Adams. The learning curve might be steep when a young player is tasked with going up against those two every day, but it may also be shorter as well. I mean, it’s certainly helped Alexander in his development.

"“The one thing you have to have is confidence,” Stokes said. “The moment you start losing confidence is when your play starts dropping. And that’s one thing I refuse to let happen is for me to lose my confidence.”"