Packers Draft Bust Suddenly Turning Things Around at OTAs

Eric Stokes' return to form would solidify Green Bay's secondary
Matt LaFleur is happy with what he's seen from former first-round CB Eric Stokes
Matt LaFleur is happy with what he's seen from former first-round CB Eric Stokes / Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin /

Packers CB Eric Stokes played in only three games last year due to injury but head coach Matt LaFleur believes the former first-round pick is poised to make an impact in the 2024-25 season.

LaFleur noted that both Stokes and WR Christian Watson "are in the best shape" he's seen from either player. They've both dealt with nagging injuries throughout their young careers but could give Green Bay a huge boost if healthy.

Originally drafted 29th overall in 2021, Stokes has a huge opportunity to prove the Packers should either extend him or pick up his fifth-year option following this year.

Matt LaFleur Says CB Eric Stokes 'Hitting Some Fast Speeds'

Talking to local media during Packers OTAs (offseason team activities), LaFleur said, "It’s a lot different when you’re coming off an injury and you’re trying to rehab versus when you’re fully healthy and you can train the right way."

Referring to Stokes, he continued, "When you look at him physically, his body looks different. He’s hitting some fast speeds out there at practice. I can tell mentally he feels like he’s in a great place."

Stokes was impressive during his rookie campaign, compiling 55 tackles, 14 deflected passes and an interception while starting 14 games and playing 16. He allowed just a 71.3 passer rating when targeted, though injuries zapped both his availability and effectiveness over the next two seasons.

Green Bay overhauled its secondary this offseason, signing Xavier McKinney and drafting Javon Bullard. Jaire Alexander is one of the NFL's best corners, though the opposite starter is in question. If Stokes can stay healthy and deliver on the promise he showed in his rookie year, the Packers could have one of the NFC's best secondaries.

The defense ranked 18th in opponent yards per pass play (6.7) last season. Their goal should be to move into the top 10 this year, coupling a dangerous defense with an exciting offense led by rising star Jordan Love under center.

Fans should be excited about this team. The Packers currently have the fifth-best odds at FanDuel Sportsbook (+850) to win the NFC but those odds could prove to be a steal if Stokes looks like his old self again.

If not, the organization will have to lean on guys like Corey Ballentine or Carrington Valentine to pick up the slack.

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