For years the Green Bay Packers have been on the lookout for a cornerback to pair with Jaire Alexander. Alexander has turned into one of the best cover corners in the NFL, but opponents would pick on the cornerback opposite of him and find plenty of success.
Knowing one side of the field was locked down had to make the Packers feel good, but knowing the other half of the field was so exploitable was something that needed to change. Finally, the Packers look to have found that bookend for him.
With their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Packers selected Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes. It was a selection that surprised some people, but after one season, Green Bay looks to have hit on Stokes.
The former Bulldog was pushed into a bigger role than anticipated as a rookie as Alexander played in only four games in 2021. Despite not having their No. 1 corner, the defense didn’t really miss a beat and Stokes was a big reason for that.
Just how good of a rookie season did Stokes have? According to PFF, he registered the lowest percentage of open targets allowed by a cornerback. His percentage was only 24, which beat out Marcus Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints, who finished with 24.5 percent.
Cornerback is notoriously one of the toughest positions in the league for a rookie to step in and perform, but you wouldn’t know it with how Stokes performed in his first season in the NFL. He added 14 passes defended and had one interception in 16 games, 14 starts, as a rookie.
The Packers have to be excited about the direction their defensive backfield is heading in. With how often teams are going to the air now, you need as many coverage corners as you can get your hands on. Green Bay looks to have two excellent ones, as Stokes and Alexander will make things difficult for opposing quarterbacks for years to come.