2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Eric Stokesby Alex Barbour February 4, 2021 2 comments
Pick-six machine! Eric Stokes is another highlight-reel player in the 2021 NFL Draft class. However, for every flashy play, there is at least one unnecessary blatant penalty. With so many pluses and minuses, the future for Stokes is not just intriguing: it is nail-biting. Either he will be the next lockdown corner or he will be a serious liability.
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Name: Eric Stokes
Class: Redshirt Junior
Weight: 185 lbs
Man Coverage (4.0/10)
Stokes has skin-tight man coverage. His flaw lies in how grabby he is. There are numerous times where Stokes is seen getting flagged for being too aggressive. Combine this with the fact that he sometimes does not turn his head around, and he might become a flag magnet at the next level. Also, his sub-elite athleticism hinders his ability to play this role against faster wide receivers.
Zone Coverage (7.0/10)
Stokes fits better in zone. As stated before, he is not an amazing athlete. Having a small territory to guard allows Stokes to use his instincts and burst to make plays. This also will take away the need for him to be as grabby. Therefore, Stokes profiles primarily as a zone corner at the next level (especially when factoring in the penalties).
At least Stokes can play man because he can press well. He is by no means Jalen Ramsey, but he can hold his own. Larger wide receivers like Josh Palmer can use their size to overpower Stoke’s press. This may become a problem depending on the division he goes to: if Stokes faces JuJu Smith Schuster, it will be a long day (if he plays man coverage). Again, he fits best in a zone scheme, so this should not be too much of a factor at the next level.
Stokes has some eye-popping instincts. Some plays he has such a good feel for the ball that he peels off his own route to get an interception. His main drawback will be discussed later (knowing when the ball arrives), so it will not be factored in here. Stokes tends to be able to sense routes as well as check downs very well. Overall, Stokes is like Marcus Peters within the helmet.
Run Defense (7.5/10)
Stokes is solid in the run game. This category does not pertain to just runs: it also pertains to after the catch tackling and pursuit as well. He has good form for tackling; however, he has instances of being easily stiff-armed by opponents. For a corner, he is far from a liability in this category.
Ball Skills (7.0/10)
This is tricky. Stokes is an interception and return specialist; however, he also tends to ‘lag’ when it comes to turning his head around for the ball. This leads to him not making a play on the ball, which can be detrimental at the next level. This mistake may also lead to even more penalties.
Straight Line Speed (4.0/10)
As said many times before, Stokes is no elite athlete. Palmer was able to gain separation on the ground, and he is no Henry Ruggs. This is why he needs to be in a zone-heavy scheme in order to truly succeed.
Short Area Burst (6.5/10)
Instincts and burst combine to make plays. That is exactly why Stokes is highly regarded. Again, he is no elite athlete; however, he has enough juice to pop off and make big plays. In a zone scheme, this is crucial to success.
Positional Versatility (5.0/10)
Even with Stokes’s mediocre athleticism and grabbiness, he can profile at multiple positions. As long as he hits the weight room and works on his hands, he has the size and instincts to play man. Right now, he is a 3. His potential projects as an 8.
Competitive Toughness (4.75/5)
Stokes does a great job showing effort on every play. His effort in the run game demonstrates this on its own; however, his grabby nature also shows how he never gives up on a play (even if he is beat). He tries to make up ground where his athleticism fails him, too.
There are several instances of injuries for Stokes. They appear minor, but the frequency is concerning. They occurred both during practice and the run game.
Location, location, location. Real estate enthusiasts chant this, and scouts will, too. Scheme is so key in determining the success of most prospects: Stokes is no different. If he is drafted by a zone-heavy scheme, he will flourish. The biggest fear comes from teams thinking he can project as a man corner because it will waste his greatest attributes. Just like many other prospects, where Stokes will go will determine whether he will become a vaunted lockdown corner or another ‘what could have been’ story.
Final Grade (62.5/100): Mid Second Round
Player Comp: Josh Norman