Packers take Georgia CB Eric Stokes with 29th overall pick
The Green Bay Packers boosted their secondary by using a first-round draft pick on Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes, a move that was overshadowed by star quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ uncertain future.
Stokes, a 6-foot-1 cornerback, went 29th overall Thursday night.
Hours before the draft, ESPN citing sources it did not identify reported that Rodgers doesn’t want to return to the Packers. The report said the Packers have offered to extend the reigning MVP’s contract and that team executives and coach Matt LaFleur have met with Rodgers during the offseason.
“As we’ve stated since the season ended, we are committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said after the report. “Aaron has been a vital part of our success and we look forward to competing for another championship with him leading our team.”
The Packers passed up an opportunity to provide Rodgers more weapons for their high-powered offense and instead acquired a potential long-term complement for Pro Bowl cornerback and 2018 first-round draft pick Jaire Alexander.
While Alexander has emerged as one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks, the Packers need to give him some help. Green Bay allowed Tom Brady to throw three touchdown passes in the first 32 minutes of an NFC championship game loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Green Bay addressed the situation by re-signing 2017 second-round pick Kevin King, but he’s struggled with injuries throughout his career and missed five games last year.
Stokes should help in that regard.
Green Bay has nine more picks left in the draft. The Packers have the No. 62 and No. 92 overall selections on Friday. They have two picks each in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds plus one more in the seventh round.
But the Packers’ top priority now involves repairing their relationship with Rodgers.
Rodgers’ long-term future has been a topic of speculation ever since the Packers traded up four spots in the first round a year ago to select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. His would give the Packers a potential successor on the roster if they decide they must deal Rodgers, who has three years left on his contract after signing a four-year, $134 million extension in August 2018.
The Packers are looking to take the next step after each of their last two seasons ended with NFC championship game losses.
They signed All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, defensive tackle Kenny Clark and Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones to lucrative deals over the last year as they hoped to keep contending for Super Bowls.
They just need to worry about whether they can hang on to their three-time MVP quarterback.
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