ATHENS — Several former Georgia players will hear their name called in the 2021 NFL Draft, which begins on Thursday. DawgNation will profile potential UGA draftees leading up to the NFL selection process as a part of our Dawgs in the Draft series. Today’s entry will focus on Eric Stokes.

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Eric Stokes has elite speed

Stokes is the fastest player in the 2021 NFL Draft class, based on the 4.25-second time he ran in the 40-yard dash at Pro Day. Stokes also showed explosiveness with a 38.5-inch vertical jump and a 130-inch broad jump at the Georgia Pro Day in March.

Eric Stokes is a game-changer

Stokes explosive quickness led to him blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown to break open a game Georgia was leading 13-7 at Missouri in 2018 back when he was a redshirt freshman.

Stokes, however, did not record an interception in 2018 or 2019, so he set to work last summer focused on how he could improve in that area. The results were impressive, as he led UGA with four interception including two Pick-6s, at Missouri and against Florida.

Eric Stokes is an unfinished project

Stokes, a converted running back, didn’t begin playing cornerback in earnest until his senior season of high school. Stokes is the first to stay he has room to improve, even after earning All-American honors last season.

Stokes is one of Kirby Smart’s top developmental stories, arriving at UGA as the lowest-ranked player in the team’s 2017 signing class and redshirting that season.

“(Stokes) was a hard-hosed, get-better player,” Smart said. He had a long way to go, but by his redshirt freshman year, he came on … "

NFL teams like taking on players with upside who are willing to work to get better. Stokes fits that mold.