Eric Stokes took a gamble on himself at the pro day for the University of Georgia yesterday in Athens. Stokes elected to run the 40-yard dash in front of scouts and NFL personnel in attendance at the Georgia practice facility. Yes, this is a customary and fairly ordinary thing to do during your pro day, but the stakes were quite a bit higher for Stokes than for most. The reason? The former Georgia lockdown corner had posted a gaudy 4.24 laser timed 40 at a pre-draft showcase earlier this month. The moment went viral, and no doubt the entire NFL world knew about the blazing speed that the defensive back from Covington, Georgia, had put on display.
Running the 40-yard dash is almost a science. Athletes prepare for months, even years, for those 4 seconds and change, in hopes that the time when the clock stops will produce a life-changing number. Just one slip, a single false step, or even a particular part of an athlete’s body not feeling absolutely 100% could lead to disappointment and a free fall down boards. So, needless to say, with a world-class time already under his belt, Stokes did not have to prove anything to anyone. However, Stokes chose to prove that his speed was, in fact, the real deal, and the minuscule number he had glided to on that turf in Miami was no fluke. The same competitive spirit that helped Stokes climb the depth chart and establish himself as the best corner on Georgia’s team for 2 seasons showed up again when it counted, and Stokes posted a sub 4.3 time once again. 4.28!
Whether Stokes gets drafted in the late first or early second round, it’s safe to say that his drive and his desire to compete, and propensity to bet on himself has earned him a life-changing payday. Someone is going to get a complete corner in Stokes. One that can defend wide receivers that are bigger than him and with the speed and quickness to draw the assignment of covering the Mecole Hardman, Julian Edleman, and Cooper Kupp types in the slot in the NFL. Most people of a particular genius are not fully appreciated in this life until they are no longer around. Georgia’s young corners will do their best to assimilate quickly and pick up the slack for the departure of this future NFL star. There is no doubt that Dawg faithful everywhere will miss number 27 on the outside of that Smart/Lanning defense when Saturdays in the fall roll around.