Eric Stokes NFL Draft Profile
- 2018 (9 Games): 20 tackles, 1 TFL, 9 PD
- 2019 (13 Games): 38 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 9 PD, 1 FF
- 2020 (9 Games): 20 tackles, 4 INTs, 4 PD
Eric Stokes has spent the past three seasons with the Georgia Bulldogs and has made a name for himself for his physical play. His ability to press receivers did a great job of rattling opponents before they even got a few yards past the line of scrimmage.
The pass-happy NFL that we live in today requires defenses to have a “bend don’t break” mentality much of the time. Adding Stokes could take a unit from good to elite.
His press coverage led to some of the more elite analytical numbers of any prospect. According to this SI article, Stokes was thrown at 28 times in nine games. Four times he intercepted the pass while four other passes were broken up. He gave up just 0.51 yards per snap this season, better than Patrick Surtain II.
Of course, there are negatives to physical, press coverage. For every big interception or pass break-up, he is liable for a penalty here or there. He also has been known to get stiff-armed by opponents on occasion due to his smaller build. If he can clean these things up, he could become one of the elite corners in the game.
Stokes is not just helpful at breaking up passes, though. He can affect a play before the ball even leaves the quarterback’s hands. He is one of the better blitzing corners in this draft. This highlight showcases Stokes’ ability to get in the backfield as well as his physicality to force the fumble.
If offensive lines have to keep Stokes in the back of their minds, it takes pressure off the bigger guys up front. His instincts and speed help greatly in that. He ran a 4.25u 40-yard dash at Georgia’s pro day. To reference, the only cornerback above six feet tall to run even a 4.5 last year going into the draft was C.J. Henderson. Stokes has nearly the exact same build at 6’1” 185-pounds.
Stokes’ blitzing ability translates to helping out in the run game as well, but running backs aren’t the only players I’m keeping in mind here. He is great at wrapping up receivers in run-after-catch situations. His long frame, with a wingspan claimed to be 79 inches, and great technique allows him to wrap up runners with relative ease.
Not only can Stokes help on defense, but he could also provide on the special teams unit. As a freshman, he was not a full-time starting CB, so he spent a lot of time on Georgia’s special teams coverage unit.
Overall, the cornerback position has become more valuable as each year goes by. Six corners were selected in the first round of last year’s draft. If Stokes can clean up some of the penalty issues and put on a little more muscle, he has the potential to be the best corner in this draft.
Draft Projection: Late First-Early Second Round
Best Traits: Speed, Competitiveness, Ball Location
Worst Traits: Penalties, Smaller Frame