Green Bay Packers CB Eric Stokes will already be going into his 3rd NFL season in 2023. Stokes, the Packers 2021 1st round pick from University of Georgia, turns 24 in March and looks forward to being back on the field with his teammates. The Packers breakout rookie in 2021 skidded in 2022 and saw his season cut short in Week 9 against the Lions.
Heading into Year 3, the Packers hope they can get more of the 2021 version of Stokes than the 2022 version, who appeared to regress both statistically and based off the eye test.
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After such a promising start to his career, the drastic regression in production from Stokes was alarming. Cornerback is one of the hardest positions to master in the NFL and it’s possible he lost some of his confidence early in the season and was never able to regain it. There’s also the possibility that Stokes was playing injured but was battling through the pain – and as a result, he wasn’t himself when on the field. There’s a number of theories we can speculate as to why his regression was so drastic but now in February of 2023, the hope is that Stokes can get back to playing productive football for the Packers defense in the upcoming year.
Make no mistake about it, Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes are the future of the Packers cornerbacks if things go according to plan. With questions at Safety in ’23, perhaps CB Rasul Douglas will fill one of the spots – which would create an even bigger need for Stokes to produce. Regardless of what happens there, the Packers would love to have Stokes and Alexander playing at a high level together for at least the next 3-4 seasons.
“That’s a kid that has come a long way,” Georgia Bulldog Head Coach Kirby Smart said. “From a guy that really wasn’t a DB coming out of high school, just more of an athlete, he’s just very conscientious to doing things the right way. When you teach Stokes something, he listens and then applies it. When you combine that ability with talent, you’ve got a pretty good player.” – April 2019
It’s important to remember Stokes’ youth (currently 23 years old) in addition to him still refining his skills as an NFL cornerback. He’s proven he can play at the highest level, as he showcased in 2021. With Jaire Alexander missing the majority of that season, Stokes was asked to defend opposing teams #1 wide receiver every week and he did a damn good job. The ability is there – now it’s just finding a way to reignite it. The Packers hired a new defensive backs coach in Greg Williams after Jerry Gray left on his own accord to join the Atlanta Falcons. Perhaps Williams, who preaches going about his business in a “respectful” manner, can strike a chord with Stokes.
Moving forward in 2023 and beyond, Eric Stokes is another key young player the Packers are counting on for solid production for years to come, in addition to the core defensive pieces of Clark, Wyatt, Slaton, Gary, Walker, Campbell and Alexander.
“Eric is still learning the NFL game,” Packers Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry told reporters in October 2022. “He’s still getting better and better every single day. He’s got unbelievable talent, unbelievable skills. Eric Stokes is going to be an elite player in this league for a long time. You can’t forget he’s a second-year pro.”
The Packers and their fanbase certainly hope that’s the case and 2023 will be a welcoming sight for Green Bay to get their 1st round DB back on the field.——————
Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a Packers guy. Alex\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.