Eric Stokes 2021 NFL Draft Profile
For those that have read my college football notes during the season, you know all too well how high I am on Eric Stokes. In what appears to be a deep cornerback class, Stokes has been a bit lost in the shuffle. It’s time to change that as we deep dive into the Eric Stokes 2021 NFL Draft profile.
Stokes measures in at 6-foot-1, 185. The necessary size is more than fine for the position. This isn’t documented but Stokes has claimed in the past he has a 79 inch wingspan.
The raw speed is obviously there too. These Pro Day 40 times are going to be a bit tricky to measure. Regardless, Stokes made it clear that he’s fast after notching a 4.25 time at the Georgia Pro Day.
The Georgia product doesn’t have a prestigious recruiting background. Stokes was a three-star recruit and 65th ranked overall player in the state of Georgia. Of course, Georgia is a state littered with talent so that’s not a huge red flag. More so than anything, his low recruiting background may have been because of his track background.
Was Stokes a track star that played football or a fast football player? Stokes was also a state champion in both the 100 and 200 meters. He also holds his high school record 100 meter run at 10.39 seconds.
Size, speed, and talent? Check, check, and check.
Stokes saw limited action at Georgia during his true freshman season where he started three of the final four games. Stokes finished the season with nine pass breakups which ranked second on the team behind Deandre Baker who later became a first round pick. From that moment on, it was time to start paying attention to Stokes.
In 2019, Stokes became a full time starter and really started to make a name for himself. The Georgia corner primarily played on the outside starting along with Tyson Campbell. It was a good year for Stokes but he really capped the year off at the Sugar Bowl.
Denzel Mims came into the game as a promising prospect. Of course, Mims was later taken in the second round by the Jets. You wouldn’t know it if you watched the that Sugar Bowl game. Stokes ate Mims for lunch.
The first thing that stands out when watching Stokes is his ball skill and ability to attack the catch point. Sure, this clip is a lame duck throw against Tennessee. However, when you watch Stokes you see him do this often. Ball in the air, he beats his man to the spot.
Stokes has been called for his fair share of pass interference calls. I’ll take someone with his skill set any day of the week. Stokes isn’t just a big corner. Time and time again he beats his man up in the process.
Stokes’ IQ for the game is also something that stands out. He was asked to play man and zone in college and thrived at both. Against Florida, Stokes came away with a gorgeous interception. Stokes made a play on the ball that wasn’t directed towards the player he was covering. Now that’s special.
Let’s get this straight. Stokes is an athletic corner with intelligence and great length? What am I missing here? The necessary traits you look for such as foot quickness and hip fluidity weren’t a question. We also now know that Stokes is a gear above just fast.
Stokes was named as the AP First Team All-SEC and a First Team All-American by 247 Sports. That’s not a small feat and it was well deserved. When you record four interceptions and take two of them back to the house, it’s easy to be recognized for that award.
One of the most underappreciated parts of a cornerback’s game is an ability to tackle. Stokes is arguably the most physical in the draft class but it also translates on the field. On the entire season in the SEC, Stokes missed a total of two tackles. He has no problem getting his nose dirty to bring someone down, which makes sense given he played some running back in high school.
Stokes’ father (who goes by the same name) was selected in the fifth round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. NFL blood lines seem to matter. Asante Samuel, Patrick Surtain, and Jaycee Horn have them. Don’t forget about Stokes. His father played in the NFL too. Just wasn’t as prestigious.
Stokes was targeted on 28 passes on the season. For of those were interceptions and four more were deflected. Stokes allowed 0.51 yards per snap, better than both Surtain and Horn. Any yardage that Stokes does allow is well earned.
Even moments where you find Stokes getting beat, it’s unreal coverage. He’s especially stingy inside the red area where his strength is more notable. DeVonta Smith (you know, the guy that won the Heisman) beat Stokes during the Alabama – Georgia game. It’s not hard to see Stokes all over Smith. Only a perfect throw was resulting in a reception.
Those freaky fast twitch movement skills you look for, Stokes has them. The Georgia corner has explosive knee bend and can get to his spot quick. We don’t have a combine this year but for the record, his jumping numbers were all excellent.
Truthfully, a lot of Stokes’ tape looks like this. He’s all over dudes, turns his head, and makes a play on the ball.
The only red flag you can come up with is that he’s a bit grabby. In terms of sticking to the receiver, playing the ball, and flipping hips, there is zero concern. Every corner gets called for flags here and there. It’s a matter of being smart with playing physically which I believe Stokes knows how to do. We talk about separation when it comes to receivers. It’s hard to find a guy that isn’t in Stokes’ hip pocket.
I’m way higher than the consensus on Eric Stokes. Outside of Patrick Surtain at Alabama (who teams just refuse to throw the ball in his general direction) I’ll take Stokes next. Jaycee Horn is another terrific prospect but I find it incredible that Stokes is found nowhere in the discussion. He’s a first round corner all day in my eyes. Be careful about passing on Stokes. He could wind up as the steal of the 2021 NFL Draft.
PS: Hey, Draft Network… You guys nailed your profile on Stokes. “lacks elite speed” Really good call there, LOSERS.
Insert Bernie meme “I am once again asking you to not take other draft publications seriously.