Auburn’s Eli Stove is projected to either go in the seventh round or undrafted in this year’s draft. He has recently met with the Green Bay Packers, and both have expressed mutual interest. We all know about Green Bay’s unwillingness to draft wide receivers early, so don’t be shocked if Stove becomes a Packer late in the draft or immediately after it.
Stove played five years of college football at Auburn and could have even played a sixth year if he chose to do so. He became a fan favorite in his five years at Auburn because of his huge explosive abilities. On the opening play of the 2016 Arkansas game, Stove took a jet sweep 78 yards to the house on the first play of the game.
For the first two years of Stove’s career, he was primarily used as a rushing threat, taking jet sweeps and reverses to the house and giving Auburn’s offense a spark. However, Stove saw his role change in his last three years at Auburn. He missed practically the whole 2018 season with a torn ACL, and it completely threw off how Auburn’s offense ran. Anthony Schwartz took over the jet sweeps and reverse games. Though Schwartz excelled at this role, Stove’s absence was felt by Auburn’s offense.
He had 41 rushing attempts totaling 446 rushing yards and a touchdown in his first two years. But in his last two years, he had a mere 14 rushing attempts for 108 yards and a touchdown. However, this opened the door for a different aspect of Stove’s game, his catching ability, which was not on display for his first three years. According to PFF, last year, Stove was the only FBS receiver to see 40 catchable passes without a drop.
He finished the year with 34 receptions for a career-high 359 yards while playing behind two NFL Draft prospects — Seth Williams and Schwartz — and with Bo Nix as his quarterback. Nix is by no means a bad quarterback, but his accuracy and decision-making are serious shortcomings. If Stove can do this with Nix, imagine what he could do with last year’s MVP, Aaron Rodgers.
It’s also worth noting that Stove’s biggest attribute to the Packers may be his return game. He took over Auburn’s punt and kick return duties in his fifth year and had four punt returns for 30 yards. He was better on kickoffs, putting up 93 yards on three returns.
Last year the Packers had the worst punt return unit in team history. Tyler Ervin led the team with just 20 punt return yards, and Tavon Austin was brought in after Ervin’s injury. Perhaps Stove’s electric playmaking ability could help the struggling punt return unit. At this point, any sort of spark in the return game would be beneficial to the Packers.
Stove also has experience playing as a gunner on the punt unit and played on every special teams unit during his time at Auburn. This willingness to play on special teams will make him more draftable and give him early opportunities to see the field.
Stove could potentially be used the way Green Bay envisioned using Ervin, who often came in and took jet sweeps and reverses. He also provides more raw ability than Ervin, which will make the fake jet sweeps and reverses more of a threat. And unlike Ervin, Stove could be used in the slot and can take the top off the defense. Adding this electric dynamic to Green Bay’s passing attack would free up the whole offense, creating more space for Rodgers’ weapons.
Stove could be a Swiss Army knife at the next level. Even though he is projected to go undrafted, he has received interest from many teams. We all know that it is essential to find value at the receiver position. Given their current cap crunch, Green Bay needs it now more than ever.