NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Georgia DB Eric Stokes

From now until the 2021 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#27 Eric Stokes / DB Georgia – 6010 185

The Good

  • Good size and very good speed
  • Capable of play in Man or Zone coverage schemes
  • Patient and balanced in Press
  • Stands his ground versus physical receivers at the top of routes
  • Stays in phase on deep routes
  • Good COD in Zone coverage to break on ball

The Bad

  • False steps forward in Press coverage
  • From Off/Press Bail coverage leaves too much space on intermediate routes
  • Very grabby at the top of routes
  • Plays receiver and doesn’t always get his head around
  • Thin frame and should add play strength
  • Not much help supporting the run

Bio

  • Career – 78 tackles, 60 solo, 2.0 TFL, 1 sack, 4 INT for 94 yards, 2 TD, 22 PBU, 1 FF
  • 2020 – 20 tackles, 14 solo, 4 INT for 94 yards, 2 TD, 4 PBU
  • 2020 – CBS Sports/247Sports All-America First Team
  • 2020 – First Team All-SEC by the Associated Press and Phil Steele
  • 37 games, 26 starts
  • Majoring in Psychology

Tape Breakdown

At this moment the Steelers have two defensive backs in the last year of their contracts, two defensive backs that are free agents and two other on the roster that are lacking in game experience.  Defensive back is going to be a need so let’s take a look at another in this year’s draft Georgia’s Eric Stokes.  He has versatility lining up both sides of the field and occasionally in the slot and has experience in Man and Zone coverages.

In Press coverage he displays very good patience and quick feet to mirror receivers off the line of scrimmage and has solid hand placement to jam. He has loose hips and good acceleration to turn and run with routes.  He has very good speed and won’t be beat on deep routes by many.  In Off Man he is comfortable in his backpedal and has good change of direction to react to the break in the receivers routes and in Trail Man he has good agility to follow and cut to match the receiver. He shows good play strength to handle physical receivers at the top of the routes. Good acceleration to close on slants and short routes. He shows solid awareness on screens and has good hand placement versus blockers.

Vs Alabama, he’s in the slot and is in good position on the route but with his back to the QB he can’t make a play on the ball. I think this was the only touchdown he allowed in 2020.

 

Vs Florida, he gets a good jam in Press coverage and will come off of his man to break on a route to the inside to make the interception and returns it for a touchdown.

 

Vs Tennessee he is in the slot on the far side. He has patience at the line of scrimmage and the speed to stay in phase. He’s a bit handsy but gets his head around to break up the pass.

 

At Missouri, he’s at the bottom of the clip and shows his stickiness in Trail to hang with the receiver through the scramble drill.

 

In Zone coverage in the short and intermediate areas he looks to get a jam on receivers going through his areas, has solid route awareness and good COD to click and close on the ball. He has experience in Cover3 and Quarters on the deep outside.

Vs Florida, at the top of the screen he shows his closing speed to get a hit on the receiver to ensure he doesn’t make the catch.

 

At Missouri, at the bottom of the clip he is in Zone coverage and will get a push on the receiver going through his area and will close quickly on the underneath pass , breaking down to get in on the tackle.

 

Against the run, he tackles more out of necessity rather than desire. He will show effort on the edge to force the play back inside and he breaks down well to put him in good position to tackle.

At South Carolina, he’s on the left edge and isn’t really aggressive but hangs on the outside and makes the tackle.

 

He has false steps at the snap in Press taking a short step forward before reacting to the receiver. From Off/Press Bail he struggles to stay with In and Out breaking intermediate routes. He gets very grabby within and at the top of routes. He doesn’t always get his head around in coverage and will play the receiver limiting his opportunities for ball production. He doesn’t get off of blocks and tries to hold his ground until reinforcements arrive. Not aggressive as a tackler versus the run or really anywhere on the field.

Overall, Stokes has the ability to play in Man or Zone coverage has very good speed, is patient in Press coverage, and has good change of direction and agility to stay with receivers.  He takes some false steps in Press, should add play strength, needs to work on staying closer on intermediate routes and work to get his head around more in coverage.  He’s not an aggressive tackler so I’m not sure there will be much improvement there.

I didn’t know a lot about Stokes coming into this report but he’s sticky in coverage overall. His speed, athleticism and scheme flexibility makes him valuable to play inside or outside.  I think most teams will see him as an outside corner but he can’t be relied on to support the run.

Projection:  2nd Round

Games Watched:  At Alabama, Vs Florida, Vs Mississippi State, At South Carolina, At Missouri

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