Eric Stokes to Green Bay
Georgia defensive back Eric Stokes (27) during the Bulldogs’ game against Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Georgia defensive back Eric Stokes Jr. has been selected by the Green Bay Packers as the No. 29 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Stokes signed with Georgia as a part of Georgia’s 2017 recruiting class. He was a former three-star out of Eastside High School but quickly developed himself into one of the Bulldogs’ top defenders.
The Covington, Ga. native played in 13 of 14 games in 2018 as a freshman, starting three of the last four. He finished his freshman campaign with 20 total stops, including a season-high five tackles in the Sugar Bowl loss to Texas. He had a second season-high of four tackles against Missouri and Alabama, respectively. Stokes finished the 2018 season with nine pass breakups, which was the second-highest on the team. He had a blocked punt versus Missouri and returned it for a touchdown. At the end of the season, he was named co-winner of the Defensive Most Improved Player award given at the team’s post-season gala following the SEC Championship game.
As a sophomore in 2019, he played in all 14 games, with 13 starts. Stokes racked up 38 total tackles and had a team-high nine pass breakups. In the win over Auburn, he had a career-high seven tackles. He had another highlight play against Tennessee when he sacked quarterback Brian Maurer, who fumbled the ball, as it was returned by Tae Crowder for a touchdown. Stokes really showed his full potential during his sophomore campaign. He was named to the Associated Press All-SEC 2nd Team
In 2020, Stokes was named to the CBS Sports/247Sports All-America First Team, First Team All-SEC by the Associated Press and Phil Steele 2nd team. He started at cornerback in 10 games, finishing with 20 total tackles, four interceptions and three quarterback pressures. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week after the win over Missouri. Stokes finished fourth in the conference with four interceptions, which is a career season-high, with two of them being returned for touchdowns. During the preseason, he was named to several preseason watch lists, including the Bednarik Award (collegiate defensive player of the year), Paycom Jim Thorpe Award (nation's top DB) and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (nation's top defensive player). He was also on the preseason watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy, which is given annually to the player who best combines community service, athletic ability and academic achievements.
Stokes is a steal of a draft pick because of his hardworking attitude and mental toughness. He has elite speed and it’s documented. He clocked a blistering 4.31 40-yard dash in the pre-draft process and was a former track star in high school at Eastside. His 6-foot-1, 190-pound stature helps him on the field. His length is a huge asset in zone coverage, but he needs to work on his man coverage. Still, Stokes is a huge steal in the draft.
Stokes knows his ball skills have to improve and remains confident that they will improve over time.
“I know for a fact I have to improve my ball skills,” he said told reporters after a workout in March, reported by Bulldawg Illustrated. “Me dropping things that I know I’ve done over and over again…I don’t care about all the good stuff I did today…All I’m thinking about is the things I did not do well today, and that’s going eat me alive.”