The Green Bay Packers grabbed cornerback Eric Stokes with the 29th pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Georgia product had all the measurables teams covet with size, length, and speed. And Stokes already has at least one of his new Packers teammates impressed. Davante Adams compared the rookie to two of the best cornerbacks he’s seen during his time in Green Bay in Jaire Alexander and Sam Shields.
Alexander — ranked No. 41 in the NFL’s Top 100 — has been starting on the outside of the Packers’ defense since his rookie season and has developed into one of the best defensive backs in the NFL. Before several concussions forced Shields out of Green Bay and eventually out of the league, the Miami wide receiver-turned-corner used his blazing speed to build a solid career.
From what Adams has seen from Stokes, the Packers’ rookie has qualities of both and is on course to become a premier defensive back in the NFL.
Eric Stokes has been to Aaron Rodgers-Davante Adams Training Camp
Over the last few seasons, as Adams has turned himself into maybe the league’s best wideout, he and Rodgers have gone straight at young corners during practice. It’s trial by fire, but instead of having to wait to face the fire against opposing offenses, the Rodgers-Adams combo that terrorizes the rest of the league gets to terrorize Packers rookies.
Stokes understandably had some problems covering Adams early in training camp, but the seven-year vet has already seen improvement in the 22-year-old, which he expressed in a post-practice interview:
“He’s the closest thing to Jaire as far as mentality and ability, from what I’ve seen so far. The kid is fast as hell. He can get beat and recover kind of like how Sam Shields would do.
“I like what I see from him.”Davante Adams on rookie corner Eric Stokes’ development during training camp
Stokes’ best attribute is his speed, and it has Adams impressed
As Adams stated, Stokes has the speed to recover from mistakes the same way Shields did.
According to NFL.com, Stokes was more of a track star in high school than a football player. His speed obviously made him a weapon on the field, but he really excelled out of the blocks as a sprinter. Stokes won a state championship with a 10.39-second 100-meter dash. He was also a state champion in the 200.
That speed has put Adams on notice. During the same post-practice interview, the Fresno State product remembered how he once beat Shields on a route during practice just for the corner to come out of nowhere and force an incompletion.
If Stokes plays like Alexander or Shields, the Packers defense is about to take a major leap forward
Green Bay has struggled to find a starting corner opposite Alexander. Kevin King was brought back on a one-year deal after finding a lack of suitors in free agency, but he has a long history of injuries. He also got beat on a play against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in the final seconds of the first half of last season’s NFC Championship Game. It wasn’t the only reason the Packers fell short of the Super Bowl, but it was certainly a big one.
The opportunity for Stokes is there. If Adams and Rodgers continue to torture him during practice and the rookie continues to make improvements, Green Bay has a legitimate shot at becoming one of the top defenses in the NFL.