2021 NFL draft prospects: Georgia CB Eric Stokes

·4 min read
Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

Georgia CB Eric Stokes

6-foot-1, 185 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.79 — potential starter

TL;DR scouting report: Long, lean, extremely fast man corner whose lack of physicality could be an issue for some teams

Games watched: LSU (2019), Arkansas (2020), Auburn (2020), Tennessee (2020), Alabama (2020)

The skinny: A 3-star Rivals recruit, Stokes redshirted his first season in 2017. The following year, he earned three late-season starts and was named UGA's co-Most Improved Defensive Player winner, making 20 tackles (one for loss) and nine pass breakups in 13 games. As a sophomore, Stokes was a full-time starter, making 38 tackles, one sack and nine pass breakups in 14 games. He was named second-team all-SEC in 2020, making the first four interceptions of his career (running back two for touchdowns) and breaking up four more passes in nine games. Stokes declared early for the 2021 draft and opted out of Georgia’s bowl game.

Upside: Stokes' track speed — he ran a 10.39-second 100-meter dash and won the state 200 meters as a senior in high school— shows up on tape. Field-fast corner who can run vertically with just about any receiver. Reportedly ran a sub-4.3 40 during pre-draft workouts last week. Athletic profile appears to be sterling.

Long frame meant to handle press-coverage duties. Well-versed in that coverage over three years at UGA — played a lot of two-man, Cover 1 and Cover 0. Asked to cover on an island quite a bit and often delivered sticky reps.

Shows the twitch to change direction against shifty wideouts. Clicks and closes in coverage fast. Rarely tested in coverage last season. Didn’t allow a catch longer than 35 yards in three seasons, per PFF. Shown some danger with the ball in his hands — scored on a punt return as a freshman and housed two interceptions for TDs in 2020.

COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 22:  Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Eric Stokes (27) looks back after scoring a touchdown from a blocked punt during the game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Missouri Tigers on Saturday September 22, 2018 at Faurot Field in Columbia, MO.  (Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Georgia defensive back Eric Stokes had four career INTs — all in 2020. (Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Held up against bigger receivers. Plays the ball at the catch point. Good length to high-point the ball and disrupt receivers’ timing and positioning. Doesn’t back down from receivers’ contact and will match their physicality.

Flashes blitz potential. Reliable, drag-down tackler. Maintains a businesslike demeanor. Quiet and trusty. Consistent performance over his three seasons. Tested against the best of the best in the SEC — ample experience in big-game settings. NFL won’t be a massive jump for him.

Downside: Could use some added bulk to fill out his long and lean frame. Lean legs and skinny ankles. Strength appears to be an issue — more of a big finesse corner.

Run defense is considered below average. NFL teams will run right at him until he shows he can disengage from blocks and wrap up consistently. Might never be great in this area.

Can get handsy in coverage. Got away with what looked like several illegal contact flags last season. Will sag too much in off-man coverage. Footwork at the top of routes can get clunky. Lateral quickness might not be quite as impressive as his straight-line speed.

Ball skills can be called into question. Zero INTs his first two seasons. Interceptions tend to find him, rather than the other way around. Not as comfortable in zone coverage.

Played in unusually talented, deep secondary and on a very good overall defense. Limited slot duty — played fewer than 100 snaps inside over the past three seasons.

Best-suited destination: Ideally, Stokes would line up as a man-coverage corner on the outside. There might be some teams that want to try him inside, but Stokes’ speed and good length scream outside corner.

Did you know: Stokes earned the nickname of “Dirty Red” for his freckles and reddish hair.

Player comp: There are some similarities, style-wise, between Stokes and Falcons 2020 first-rounder A.J. Terrell, although Terrell’s build is more filled out and he plays with better strength.

Expected draft range: Top-60 pick

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