Packers CB Eric Stokes Hopes to Build On a Solid Rookie Season

There is no doubt Green Bay Packers 2021 first round pick Eric Stokes had a successful rookie season. The former Georgia star earned All-Rookie Team honors after being thrust into a starting role early in the season after injuries to Kevin King and Jaire Alexander. He came through and played well. But Stokes is hoping to take his game to another level in year two.

Stokes was noticeable in training camp last year. His speed and determination to learn made him stand out right away.

Both Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams were “picking on him” in camp, throwing passes in his direction on a regular basis. Stokes took it in stride, realizing that Rodgers and Adams, two of the best in the game at their respective positions, were trying to make him better.

When the season started, Stokes was not expected to see a lot of action right away on defense. In the season opener against the Saints, he was on the field for only eight defensive snaps.

But when King was injured in Week 2 and then Jaire Alexander was lost for the season in Week 4, Stokes was thrust into the starting lineup. He replaced King midway through the second game of the season and started every game starting in Week 3.

Stokes had a strong rookie year. According to, opposing quarterbacks completed just 49.5 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Stokes and had a quarterback rating of just 71.3. He also broke up 14 passes. Those are impressive numbers for any cornerback, let alone a rookie.

Stokes made a big impression on his head coach in his first season with the team. “He is a guy that is just wired the right way,” Matt LaFleur told reporters last season. “He comes to work with the right attitude, with the right mentality, and I think he’ll continue to get better and better and better the more we progress through this thing. I just love what he’s all about as a person. I think he’s got a really great skill set to complement that and we’re fortunate to have that guy on our football team.”

One thing Stokes needs to improve upon is his ability to play the ball in the air. His elite speed allows him to recover when he’s momentarily beaten and break up passes. But despite the outstanding numbers he had in coverage, he intercepted only one pass all season in 97 targets. He dropped five potential interceptions last season.

Just like last year, Stokes has not hesitated to acknowledge the areas he needs to work on and he told reporters at OTAs that he intends to improve his ability to finish interceptions.

“I’m trying to grow that aspect of my game,” Stokes explained. “[I’m] just starting to look for the ball more. I’ve got to get comfortable with that. I’m not making no excuses or anything, but just growing up all I knew face guard, face guard. just play [the receiver’s] hands. Like, hey bro, throughout everything just play hands. So now [I’m] just retraining myself to just look for the ball. I know you’re in position, look for the ball. Do all this little stuff and get out of your head.”

Stokes has some experienced players on the roster to learn that skill from. Rasul Douglas doesn’t have the speed of Stokes or Jaire Alexander, but Stokes knows how to play the ball and make interceptions. He had five last year despite playing only 12 games and he returned two of them for touchdowns.

If Stokes can improve his ability to play the ball in the air and make interceptions, he has the potential to become an elite cornerback.

Better yet, the Packers potentially have the strongest starting cornerback trio in the league in former Pro Bowler Jaire Alexander, Stokes and Douglas. When you add starting safeties Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage to the mix and the Packers secondary has the potential to be elite.

Stokes knows the potential is there. “I feel like we can be a really good secondary,” he said. “I know how all of us work, I know how all of us compete day in and day out, and how we want the best for all of us. We can be one of the best DB (groups) in this whole league. We’ve just got to go out there and do it.”

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