Derek Stingley Jr. Draft Profile
There is no harder round one player to project than LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.. He is a guy that could be a lockdown down perennial all-pro as soon as he steps into the league or a player that doesn’t even see the field. He is what you call “a boom or bust prospect”. He has all the intangibles: speed, size, strength, but has been riddle by the injury bug. When evaluating his film, I purposefully chose not to evaluate his UCLA film which is known for being his far and away worst game. Apparently, he broke his foot less than a month before that game and should not have played that game, but chose to tough it out. It isn’t a fair representation of the player that he is, so I am opting not to hold it against him. When evaluating Stingley I watched a lot of his 2019 tape to see the player that he truly is. With that being said, I still watched his 2021 Central Michigan game to get a feel for where he is at. I still believe Stingley is one of the best players in this year’s draft. His success is dependent on his health and his landing spot, but if Stingley can get back to full-go, he has a chance to terrorize the league.
It is really hard to find a consistent man-coverage corner with fluid hips, a physical playing style, and receiver-like ball skills. That is exactly what you get with Derek Stingley Jr. When healthy, he is the type of player that you put on the opposing team’s number one receiver and let him go to work. One thing that makes him such an attractive prospect is that he can match up with just about anyone. He runs in the low 4.3s, is six feet tall, and is very aggressive. When the ball is in the air, Stingley isn’t afraid to go up and get it. In coverage, Stingley’s hip flexibility is impressive; he gets in and out of breaks so easily. On top of his physical demeanor, Stingley Jr. is an aggressive tackler. He does not shy away from anyone stepping in his way which makes him an asset when setting the edge as a run defender or when playing cover-two. At the top of his backpedal, Stingley does a great job at planting his feet and driving; whether it be in pursuit of a tackle or if he is just trying to make a play on the ball. Whenever Stingley gets beat, he has shown to have exceptional recovery speed. When going up against more physical receivers, it never felt like Stingley was being bullied. If anything he was doing the bullying, forcing the receiver to the sideline, or smacking the ball out of their hands. For a team in the same division of guys like Michael Thomas, Deebo Samuel, or AJ Brown, a player of Stingley Jr.’s talents will be needed. Stingley Jr. has all of the ingredients required to be an all-pro cornerback, he just needs the right coach to make something out of it.
Since Stingley Jr.’s breakout season in 2019, he has played just 10 games. Health is a legitimate concern for Stingley Jr. and if teams aren’t comfortable with his medicals, there is a chance he can fall in this draft. When he is on the field, I noticed that while he doesn’t give up a ton of yards, he does give up a lot of catches. He tackles the receivers immediately after they catch the ball, but the fact that they are catching the ball at such a consistent rate is worrisome. Against Kyle Pitts and Van Jefferson in 2019, Stingley Jr. really struggled. With that being said, those guys are proven, consistent, well-respected NFL players and Stingley Jr. was a true freshman. Stingley Jr.’s major concerns revolve around his health, if he can stay healthy he will be a real problem in the NFL.
I am a Derek Stingley Jr. believer. If he is on the field and healthy, I believe he could very well end up being the defensive rookie of the year, especially if he lands with the right team. As I mentioned, Stingley is an elite tackler and a significant contributor in the run game. He would fit perfectly in Lovie Smith’s cover two scheme for the Texans. With that being said, third overall seems a little too rich for Stingley but I don’t think he will be there by pick number 13. I don’t believe he falls past the Vikings at 12th overall. Daronte Jones, the Vikings' defensive backs coach, was Stingley’s position coach at LSU so it is hard to see him getting past the Vikings. I could also see the Giants taking a shot on him at seventh overall to man up in Wink Martindale’s man coverage system. I believe he is a top 15 player in this year’s draft. He reminds me of Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore due to his hip mobility, tenacity, and willingness to tackle. Stingley Jr. is going to be a really special player if he can recover from his foot injury and stay healthy.
Ball Skills: 9/10
Eyes + Instincts: 6/8
Size + Speed: 6.25/7
Man Coverage: 4.5/5
Zone Coverage: 3.75/5
Final Rating: 85
Pro Comparison: Marshon Lattimore
Team Fits: Texans, Giants, Vikings
Draft Ranking: Top 15 Player
Draft Projection: Top 12 Pick