Ever since his emergence as a true freshman, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. has been pegged as the de facto CB1 of this 2022 NFL Draft class. While injury impacted his final season at the college football level, the LSU CB still projects to be one of the best in the class and a guaranteed first-round prospect. Stingley’s scouting report showcases exceptional athletic ability and almost unrivaled ball skills ahead of the NFL Draft.
Derek Stingley Jr. NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: LSU
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’0 1/4″
- Weight: 190 pounds
- Wingspan: 74 1/8″
- Arm: 30 5/8″
- Hand: 9 5/8″
Derek Stingley Jr. Scouting Report
Stingley’s exceptional introduction to the college football scene had NFL scouts salivating at his potential at the next level. They’ve had to wait another two years to access him, and they’ve not been without issue. However, the LSU cornerback still projects to be a ball-hawking, play-making, potential lockdown corner on the outside of an NFL defense.
Stingley’s scouting report begins with size. At 6’1″ and 195 pounds, he owns the prototypical size of an NFL cornerback. However, size alone isn’t enough for success. Thankfully, Stingley is blessed with ideal length at the position, which helps him be disruptive both at the catch point and at the line of scrimmage. He routinely uses his length to get a jab in at the point of the snap, gaining an advantage from the get-go.
An exceptional athlete, Stingley can go toe-to-toe with the fastest wide receivers that college football has to offer. The LSU cornerback begins his coverage campaign from an excellent, low stance. From there, he explodes into an impressive backpedal, with the fluidity to turn and run with ease. He demonstrates excellent play speed, but there’s more to him than simply being able to run.
Athleticism, ball skills, versatility
The LSU CB has stellar footwork, helping him mirror receivers’ routes. Additionally, he displays tremendous change-of-direction ability. Stingley is also explosive in short areas, allowing him to jump routes and makes plays on the ball. Without eye discipline, athleticism goes to waste. Still, the LSU cornerback keeps his eyes focused on his opponents’ feet early in phase and uses his intelligence to switch focus to the quarterback’s intentions.
Stingley puts his experience as a wide receiver to use at the catch point. He demonstrates impressive ball tracking prowess and regularly puts himself in a position to make a play. When the ball is in the air in his vicinity, there is every chance of a turnover. As mentioned earlier, he uses his length to be disruptive at the catch point.
Finally, Stingley Jr. projects to be extremely scheme-versatile, making him a valuable commodity in the NFL Draft. He’s seen time at multiple alignments in the last two seasons while playing in both press and off coverage. LSU even rotated him into a safety alignment. While he projects as a starting outside corner, this versatility adds additional value.
Areas for improvement
It is difficult to poke holes in Stingley’s game following his college career at LSU. His athleticism, ball skills, and football intelligence will be alluring for NFL teams in need of a lockdown outside cornerback. However, there are some areas for concern ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft.
If we’re hyper-critical, he needs to be mindful of his hand usage. There were instances of him getting a little handsy downfield unnecessarily, which would potentially have been a penalty in the NFL. Although he plays with physicality at the line of scrimmage, he needs to be mindful of his hand usage there as he sometimes has to recover a loss of balance caused by lunging with his arms.
Additionally, there are question marks over his competitive toughness. He has the ability to be great, but he’s often inconsistent with his apparent effort on the football field. That was clear against UCLA earlier this season. That game, and some others, also raised concerns over his ability as a tackler. He needs to ensure that he wraps up and takes his man down on contact.
Missing time in consecutive seasons with injury will raise red flags for NFL teams. Thankfully for Stingley, the timing of his season-ending surgery meant he was be able to successfully test for teams at the LSU Pro Day. Nonetheless, this will be a point of emphasis for NFL teams looking to use significant draft capital on a player of Stingley’s caliber early in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Stingley’s Player Profile
Stingley’s links to the NFL go far beyond his potential early-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. His grandfather, Darryl Stingley, was a first-round pick of the New England Patriots in the 1973 NFL Draft. His father, Derek, played football at the junior college level and was on the New York Jets practice squad before pursuing a career in the Arena League. There, he registered 19 interceptions and 110 pass deflections.
The football inspiration is clear, and Stingley Jr.’s early football career highlighted the best of the talent of both generations before him. Darryl was set to become one of the highest-paid receivers in the game at the time before a career-ending injury. It was clear early on that Stingley Jr. held the same ball skills to play the position. However, he’d also inherited his father’s defensive prowess.
Stingley Jr. quickly established himself as one of the most dangerous playmakers in high school football, with the ability to impact the game on both sides of the ball. The Baton Rouge native excelled for Dunham High School, earning five-star recognition and ranked as the No. 1 cornerback and player in Louisiana as well as the third-best athlete in the nation.
Stingley Jr. commits to LSU prior to his high school senior year
Stingley Jr. received over 30 offers from colleges across the country. Still, he spoke early on in the process about a close bond with in-state LSU. The Tigers made their offer during his sophomore season, and before his senior season, he made his commitment, tweeting: “In my heart, I truly feel this is the right place for me. I’m all in!”
Although he was all-in, there was still work to be done for Dunham. Having helped lead the team to a district title as a junior, they went back-to-back for the first time in school history with another title in his senior season. During those two title-winning seasons, Stingley Jr. contributed 14 interceptions in 20 games.
The versatile playmaker also snagged 24 receptions for 678 yards and 8 touchdowns in his senior campaign. Moreover, he contributed 192 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns.
Stingley’s exceptional ability to produce in the secondary and as a receiver saw him named Offensive and Defensive MVP. Furthermore, he earned first-team All-District honors on both sides of the ball. Stingley was named the Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year in 2018 and garnered an invite to the US Army All-America Bowl to the surprise of absolutely no one.
Stingley Jr.’s career at LSU
Having enrolled early at LSU, Stingley Jr made an early impression on the Tigers’ coaching staff. During spring practices, he was routinely the best defensive back. At the annual spring game, the true freshman snagged an interception on the game’s very first play. Stingley would earn the starting cornerback job for the 2019 season.
In addition, Stingley’s outstanding athletic ability allowed him to return punts early on. During his first three games, he averaged 14 yards per punt. As impressive as his returning ability was, it wouldn’t take long for opposing offenses to be subjected to his skills on defense. In his second career game against Texas, he broke up 2 passes, with another pair of deflections coming against Northwestern State.
Emerging as a true lockdown corner
His emergence as a true lockdown corner came with his first career interception against Vanderbilt. It started a run of three consecutive games with an interception, with three more coming down the stretch of a national championship-winning campaign.
Stingley set an SEC Championship Game record with 2 interceptions in the Tigers win over Georgia. In the national championship, he helped lead a defense that denied Trevor Lawrence a touchdown for the first time in the 2019 season.
In a genuinely remarkable freshman season, Stingley led the SEC with 6 interceptions. Additionally, he led the conference and was second in the nation with 21 pass deflections. Naturally, the accolades came rolling in. Stingley was a consensus All-American, earned first-team All-SEC honors, and named the SEC Newcomer of the Year.
Having seamlessly transitioned from high school to college football dominance, expectations were high ahead of his sophomore season. With rumors that he could even see time on offense in 2020, whispers of a potential Heisman Trophy-winning year could be heard around the college football landscape.
A difficult 2020 season but high expectations ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft
A combination of injuries and the uncertainty of the global situation made a repeat of his freshman success difficult. Despite this, Stingley started the year with the same versatility that he’d flashed the year prior.
In the season opener against Vanderbilt, he returned 3 punts for 92 yards. The star DB also saw return duties against Arkansas, but that highlighted the danger of putting your most valuable player on special teams as Stingley suffered a concussion. He would also miss time during the season with a nagging leg injury.
Statistically, Stingley’s season showed signs of a sophomore slump. Yet, he amassed 5 pass deflections and should have had an interception against Alabama. Moreover, he secured his first career forced fumble against Auburn to go with 27 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss.
With a return to normality for the CFB season, Stingley Jr. was once again expected to establish himself as one of the best in the game. Prior to the season, Stingley was adorned with the prestigious No. 7 LSU jersey, awarded to the best Tigers player on the roster.
Despite a difficult 2021, Stingley still projects as a first-round talent
However, a difficult start to the season escalated into something more disastrous. In the season opener against UCLA, he was embarrassed as he whiffed on a tackle that resulted in a touchdown. Then he missed time with an undisclosed injury, raising questions about his status.
On October 6, those questions were answered. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron announced that his star cornerback would undergo surgery on a foot injury, ruling him out indefinitely. The LSU cornerback’s college career was over. Stingley officially declared for the 2022 NFL Draft in early January.
With question marks over his health, Stingley has been a difficult NFL Draft prospect to project. There’s no doubting that at his best, he’s an athletic phenom blessed with technical excellence and exceptional ball skills. However, when your game is predicated on athleticism, and particularly at a position where fluidity is key, the LSU cornerback appeared to be headed for a mid-round selection at best.
Although Stingley was unable to test at the NFL Combine, the questions about his recovery were answered in dramatic style at the LSU Pro Day. Running a 4.37-second 40-yard dash and logging a 38.5″ vertical jump set social media ablaze. Looking fluid out on the field during positional drills as well, Stingley may well have positioned himself to be a top-10 selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, after all.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report on Derek Stingley Jr.
Positives: Once highly rated shutdown cornerback who is smooth and fluid pedaling in reverse, flips his hips in transition, and easily runs downfield with receivers. Effectively reads and diagnoses plays, shows great awareness, and nicely times pass defenses. Almost clairvoyant making plays with his back to the ball and knows when to turn his head around to locate the pass in the air.
Consistently positions himself against receivers, gets vertical for the pass defense, and displays outstanding hands for the interception. Mixes it up with receivers throughout the route, displays an explosive burst to the ball out of his plant, and gets a hand in to knock away passes. Stays with receivers on crossing patterns and effectively defends the throw. Fires up the field defending run plays and screen passes.
Negatives: Played his best football three seasons ago. Struggled with injuries the past two years. Must be more consistent with his backpedal. Inefficient.
Analysis: Stingley looked like one of the premier defensive prospects in the nation in 2019, as he was a complete shutdown corner who was rarely challenged by opponents. His play slipped in 2020, and last year, his season was cut short by injury.
At the top of his game, Stingley possesses the skill and ability to develop into a top-notch cornerback who can line up in a variety of defensive schemes. Yet, the past two seasons leave a lot of unanswered questions, which makes Stingley a risk. He’s one of the bigger boom-or-bust prospects in this draft. Nonetheless, if the team who selects him can get Stingley back to his 2019 form, they could have an All-Pro cornerback on their roster.