Number 21 has become something of a prime number for the Green Bay Packers. That is not the case in the mathematical sense, of course, but rather in that the number has become synonymous with talented defensive backs.
Now, 21 belongs to the team’s newest cornerback, first-round draft pick Eric Stokes. The Packers announced Stokes’ uniform number on Twitter early Friday morning after the pick came in:
The Packers have four notable defensive backs in team history who have worn the 2-1 with substantial success. Most recent was safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a fellow first-round pick like Stokes from the 2014 NFL Draft. Bob Jeter, a starting cornerback on many of Vince Lombardi’s 1960s Packers teams, and Craig Newsome, who was the starting left cornerback for the 1996 Super Bowl-winning Packers had particularly strong performances wearing the digits.
Of course, the most distinguished player to wear 21 in team history just got the call that he will be receiving his gold jacket this summer. After wearing 24 for his tenure with the Oakland Raiders, Charles Woodson wore 21 throughout his seven-year run with the Packers. Woodson made four Pro Bowls in Green and Gold, earning two first-team All-Pro nods and the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year award, and is now headed for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer.
Now some lofty expectations are placed on Stokes with the number, which is a change from the 27 he wore at the University of Georgia. 27 is not technically available in Green Bay, belonging to running back Patrick Taylor, but as a former undrafted free agent who did not play at all in his rookie year, Stokes probably could have requested that number had he chosen.
Instead, Stokes will try to live up to the legacy of cornerback success that comes with 21 in Green Bay.