GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers finished 10th in opponent passer rating last season, a rather amazing feat considering All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander missed 13 games with a shoulder injury.
With first-round pick Eric Stokes playing like a wise veteran and Rasul Douglas coming out of nowhere to deliver a series of game-turning plays, the Packers overcame the loss of Alexander to win 13 games and capture the No. 1 seed.
Now, with a healthy Alexander, a seasoned Stokes and a re-signed Douglas, the Packers could have the best group of cornerbacks in the NFL. Not just for this year but for the next few years.
The 33rd Team, the site started by former NFL executive Mike Tannenbaum and Joe Banner, placed the league’s cornerback duos into seven tiers. With three high-quality starters to provide an answer against top quarterbacks, Green Bay was listed as one of four teams with a Tier 1 tandem. Tier 1 is defined as teams that have two cornerbacks who could be the No. 1 corner for most teams.
Green Bay might have three.
“I think Green Bay is the best overall with Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes only going into his second season and (Rasul) Douglas looked like a different player being coached by Jerry Gray,” former Pro Bowl defensive back Samari Rolle said.
Last season, 96 cornerbacks played at least 300 coverage snaps. That’s exactly three per team. According to Pro Football Focus and its best assessment of coverage responsibilities, only six cornerbacks allowed a completion rate of 51.0 percent or better. One was Douglas, who ranked fourth at 50.8 percent. Another was Stokes, who tied for fifth at 51.0 percent. In 2020, five corners were at 51.0 percent or better. Alexander tied for fourth at 50.7 percent.
That’s three cornerbacks not just delivering solid performances. That’s three cornerbacks delivering elite performances.
“I tell them all the time, Eric Stokes and Rasul, they play as good as any All-Pro corners or any Pro Bowl corner that I’ve see,” Alexander said this month. “That was good to see, being able to pick up where I left off. The sky’s the limit at this point because you know who’s back. The general’s back. So, the sky’s the limit.”
The play of the cornerbacks is why Green Bay is an overwhelming favorite to win the NFC North at SI Sportsbook. While Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins, Detroit’s Jared Goff and Chicago’s Justin Fields will be attacking Green Bay’s superb cornerbacks, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers will face the cornerbacks of the Lions (Tier 4), Bears (Tier 5) and Vikings (Tier 6).
NFC North Insiders
Get ready for the 2022 NFL season with our 12-part NFC North Insiders series, with stories running every Saturday and Sunday until training camp. Next week: The best- and worst-case scenarios for the Packers’ and their divisional rivals.
Part 3: Most overrated player for each team.
Part 4: Most underrated player for each team.