49ers NFL Draft: Eric Stokes is the perfect target in Round 2

Eric Stokes #27 of the Georgia Bulldogs (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Eric Stokes #27 of the Georgia Bulldogs (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Check out why we think Eric Stokes is the perfect player for the 49ers to target with their second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

With all the recent NFL Draft rumor drama with regards to who the San Francisco 49ers will select with the third overall pick, it’s easy to forget they also have some other important picks to make in later rounds.

More specifically, the Niners need to bolster their secondary and will need to do so as early as possible in this year’s draft.

Though the front office was able to sign two important cornerbacks short-term in Emmanuel Moseley and Jason Verrett, they are still basically the only capable starters on the Niners roster for the boundary, so the team will have no choice but to pick a few players they feel can be valuable to the secondary.

A weak secondary can absolutely ruin a team’s chances of being competitive in today’s NFL, and with a division as loaded with talent as the NFC West (wide receivers like DeAndre Hopkins, Cooper Kupp, D.K. Metcalf, Robert Woods to name a few), the 49ers have no choice but to make an impact pick here.

Once the Niners made the decision to fly into the early first round, they essentially decided they were OK with missing out on some of the premier cornerbacks such as Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn, which meant they liked some players they felt would be available with the 43rd overall pick.

In comes Georgia Bulldog’s cornerback, Eric Stokes.

Stokes is by far one of the more coveted “tier 2” cornerbacks in this year’s draft, and the Niners are in an absolutely prime position to grab him with their first day-two pick. Stokes was a two-year starter with the Bulldogs and had a sort of explosion in his junior year with four interceptions (two returned for a touchdown) and four passes deflected. Stokes actually had nine pass breakups in his previous two years at Georgia as well but didn’t log any interceptions.

He was also awarded second-team All-SEC honors in his final year with the Bulldogs.

A lot of teams are usually slightly hesitant to pick a player who only breaks out in his final year of college, but Stokes would be an absolute steal if his final year with Georgia translates to the NFL stage. Stokes is also a premier athlete, who bolsters a height of 6-foot-1, and possesses top-end speed, as he was recorded running a 4.25 40-yard dash at his pro day recently. Even by pro-day standards, where times are usually a little better than at the NFL Scouting Combine, that’s extremely impressive.

Stokes is the perfect example of a long and athletic modern-day corner who has the ability to keep up with any opposing receiver and has the athletic gifts to make a play when needed. He specializes in press coverage and would be able to sit behind the current 49ers starters for a year to be able to sharpen his coverage skills before being thrown into the starting role.

He has all the tools of a natural pass defender, and the 49ers would be a prime spot for him to grow.

Stokes does have some negatives, though. While he is tall, Stokes is not necessarily built to be able to consistently beat out receivers with bigger frames such as Metcalf, as Stokes’ most current weight was recorded at 185 pounds. This will lead to players with stockier builds taking advantage of Stokes’ frame and bullying him to make catches at times. This may not be a massive issue, though, as Stokes should be able to make up for his lack in bulk by utilizing his athletic prowess to win consistently at the pro level.

Stokes could mostly sit in his first year with the Niners if they were to grab him, as I do think he would greatly benefit from bolstering his physical build while learning from his future teammates before being thrown into the fire, day one.

If it all worked out, though, Stokes could prove to be a massive steal for the team in the second round and would give the front office another capable secondary player to work with for years to come.

Hopefully, he’s available on day two for San Francisco.

Next. 10 high-profile 49ers draft picks who never panned out. dark