Green Bay Packers pick speedy Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes in first round of 2021 NFL draft

Ryan Wood
Packers News

GREEN BAY, Wis. — A disgruntled Aaron Rodgers wasn't enough to entice the Green Bay Packers to use a first-round pick on a receiver for the first time in almost 20 years.

The Packers instead turned to a familiar position. With the 29th overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday, general manager Brian Gutekunst selected Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes. He'll join a secondary that struggled in the NFC championship game against Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who torched the Packers on third down in their showdown at Lambeau Field.

Stokes has good size at 6-foot-1, 194 pounds, making him an ideal complement to line up opposite Packers All-Pro corner Jaire Alexander (5-10, 196). More impressive, he ran a freakish 4.25 40 at Georgia's pro day, showing the type of closing speed that could make him special. Stokes instantly becomes the fastest player on the Packers' roster, at least by the stopwatch.

Stokes had four interceptions as a junior in 2020. He was a stingy cover corner, allowing 16 receptions on 28 targets for 145 yards, 10 first downs, one touchdown and a 43.6 rating when targeted, according to Pro Football Focus.

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Eric Stokes is the third cornerback in the last five years that the Packers have selected in the first round.

It was the first time in Gutekunst's four drafts he did not execute a first-round trade. Gutekunst bypassed a bevy of other attractive options in a deep draft, including Ole Miss slot receiver Elijah Moore. Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore, TCU safety Trevon Moehrig, Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg, and Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins were among the players available for Gutekunst to draft.