Is Rising Junior Cornerback Eric Stokes The Next Deandre Baker? Staff Writer: Corey Darko

 

 

When senior Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker declared for the NFL draft, many Georgia fans wondered how they would replace the former Jim Thorpe Award winner. Saturday’s spring game showed that the Bulldogs have a new shutdown-corner in waiting in Eric Stokes. Stokes didn’t just have one good spring game as he has had a good spring camp and flashed last year in his limited time as he had 9 pass breakups as a sophomore, 2nd on the team after Deandre Baker. Based on his trajectory and him being the clear alpha male in the Cornerback group the question has to be asked not only if stokes has the potential to be the next Deandre Baker but an all American his junior? First let’s look at what Stokes Brings to the table

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Stokes started the last 3 games of the season and flashed elite potential

Credit: Photo Courtesy Of 247sports.com

Skillset: Watching him play, it’s easy to see how fluid and how easy it is for him to flip his hips and run down field with wide receivers and stay in their hip pocket as Woodstock High School senior Shahil Patel stated, “ he’s more fluid than Deandre Baker.” symbolizing how fluid he is. Eric Stokes track-speed and long arms also help him thrive in press as Pro Football Focus ranked him number 1 in forced incompletions proving how often Stokes is around the ball to make a play on it. When you Watch stokes you will be reminded of New England’s all-pro corner back Stephon Gilmore as both possess track-level speed with hip fluidity and short-area burst and both have the length to press you at the line while also having the versatility to play off-coverage. The one thing Stokes can work on is his tackling as he is prone to not always putting much effort into tackling however tackling is a want too and Stokes’s passion for the game tells me he will improve his tackling.

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Stokes has the length, speed, and hips to thrive

Credit: Photo Courtesy Of Dawgnation.com

Physical Tools: In terms of physical tools, Stokes arguably has the best physical tools in the country. He is 6’1 190 pounds with track-level speed, elite quickness and long arms. Based on tools, he arguably has more potential then Deandre Baker as he is longer, faster more of a freak athlete, and more fluid than Baker was. Woodstock High School sophomore Kylee Rende stated, “Stokes is arguably the fastest corner in the country.” Symbolizing how elite Stokes’s speed is. Stokes’s tools alone give him superstar potential.

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Stokes had 9 pass-breakups as a sophomore

Credit: Photo Courtesy of covnews.com

Man Coverage ability: What made baker so great was elite feel for where the wide receiver was going. He wasn’t blessed with the elite length and speed Eric Stokes is blessed with; however, he is very instinctive, great ball skills, and showcased time and time again an elite ability to mirror receivers as he didn’t give up a touchdown his last two seasons at Georgia. Stokes has flashed the very same ability as he is always in position to make a play on the ball as evident by Pro football focus ranking him number 1 in forced incompletions. He is great at challenging receivers at the line—scrimmage and staying with them throughout their routes due to his elite speed and quickness. While he isn’t perfect in man coverage as he still gets a bit grabby and still needs to refine his technique, he is competitive and great at preventing separation. Woodstock high school senior Brent Melton stated, “His hips and quickness combined with his track speed gives him the tools to be a shutdown corner.” symbolizes the tantalizing skillet stokes possess.

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Eric Stokes is arguably the fastest player on the team

Credit: Photo Courtesy of The Red and Black

Weaknesses: While stokes is great in man coverage, tackling and being less grabby in coverage are two things she must improve on.  Stokes occasionally takes bad angles in pursuing tackles and other times just flat out whiffs n tackling as he often fails to consistently wrap up. In terms of coverage, his only real weakness is he tends to get grabby in coverage. Despite his elite speed, he does get grabby in defending the deep ball despite being really good at playing the football he has a tendency to hold receivers down so he can make a play on the ball. Obviously, this be can be fixed with more experience but it’s still a weakness for him as Woodstock High School senior Logan Mchmunn stated, “ He has to do a better job of avoiding penalties while the ball is in the air.” symbolizing the area where stokes has to improve in.

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With Deandre Baker Off To The NFL, Stokes is poised to replaced Baker as the alpha male in the secondary.

Credit: Photo Courtesy of Twitter.com

Is Stokes the next Deandre Baker? This is the question many Georgia fans want to know but the reality is we truly can’t expect Stokes to immediately erase one-half of the filed week to week like Deandre Baker did. However, that doesn’t mean Stokes isn’t capable of doing that as he flashed shutdown ability as a sophomore and during the Georgia G–day game and is by all accounts a hard worker similar to how Baker was as Woodstock High School senior Alyssia Picart stated, “He has the same intangibles as Deandre Baker” symbolizing stokes has the talent and work ethic to be as dominant as Baker. We also have to remember Deandre Baker didn’t have a true breakout season until his junior year but flashed star potential his sophomore year similar to Eric Stokes. In conclusion, Stokes has the tools, confidence, and intangibles to be the next Great Georgia Corner.

Sports Notebook: Baseball team preparing for the playoffs

The baseball team is heading into the playoffs with momentum as they are winners of 3 straight games and have held their last 3 opponents to a combined 3 points to finish with a 20-10 overall record. Their defense has been a team strength all season long as they have only given up 5 or more points 10 times all season and have pitched a couple shutouts this year, symbolizing how strong defensively they are as a team. Their offense has also caught up with their defense as they have gained more consistency as the season ended. The baseball team is heading into the playoffs with confidence as they are arguably one of the more balanced teams in the state.

In case you missed it: The boys Lacrosse team is coming off a 10-3 loss to Allatoona, snapping their two-game win streak and dropping their overall record 7-7. The team will look to bounce back against Hillgrove on April 25th at 6 pm.

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