PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 04: Derek Stingley Jr. #7 of the LSU Tigers reacts against the UCLA Bruins in the first quarter at Rose Bowl on September 04, 2021 in Pasadena, California.

By Dylan MacKinnon

Derek Stingley Jr. has been the de facto CB1 in this draft since he first showed up at LSU in 2019. He was the no 1 ranked recruit in the Nation when he committed to LSU, and even 3 years out from this draft he had scouts drooling. But a couple injury plagued seasons has muddied the water on who will be the CB1 in this draft. Many now peg Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardener as the CB1 after he dominated on the field for 3 years while Stingley Jr sat on the Injured List.

But still, all the traits and talent that had scouts dreaming of acquiring Derek Stingley Jr. are still there. And some team might luck into a prospect who would usually go top 5 out of concern for injuries. With that said, lets take a look at Derek Stingley Jr. and if he is worth the hype that was heaped on him 3 years ago,

The Exact Prototype of an NFL QB

If someone was going to develop the perfect NFL CB in a lab, he may come out looking a bit like Derek Stingley Jr. About 6’1″, a little under 200 pounds, lengthy arms, it’s like he was born to play corner. He has the reach to break up plays it looked like he was out of. We may not have seen it in a couple of years, but go back to his 2019 season, and you will see what has scouts drooling.

And beyond his size and length, he is also fast. He did not work out at the combine, as he continue his recovery from a Lisfranc injury suffered in September. But when he ran the 40-yard dash as a high school recruit he was clocked at 4.3 seconds. That’s faster than most WRs he will line up against. You will be hard-pressed to find many NFL prospects, let alone a CB prospect as athletic as he is. Moreover, he is scheme versatile and can stand up in press coverage, but also drop back in zone coverage, with the size, speed, and skill to excel in both schemes.

But playing cornerback is of course about more than being athletic. We have seen plenty of great athletes be busts in the NFL because they lack a certain thing we call talent *cough* Dorial Green-Beckham *cough*. Thankfully, Stingley Jr. also has that in abundance. Stingley Jr. is almost as smooth when back pedaling as he is when running forward. He has a keen awareness of not only where his mark is, but where the QBs eyes are. Somehow often being able to focus on both at the same time.

His former teammate, Joe Burrow, had tons of praise for Stingley Jr when they were facing off in practice.

“He is the best young cornerback I’ve ever seen. He’s the best and it’s really not even close.”

What you also need to know about Stingley Jr is that he was a very good WR in High School. And I do not bring that up to suggest he can play WR in the NFL. I bring it up because when you watch him make plays on the ball, he looks like a WR. Not only does he have exceptional hands for a corner, he excels at tracking the ball. The last time he played a full season, he had 6 interceptions and deflected 15 more.

Determined to Prove He Is the Best

You want your cornerbacks to have a certain confidence about them. Thankfully Stingley Jr has that in bunches. He declared himself the best cornerback in the draft. And according to his dad, that mentality is not a thing with him being too cocky. He just knows who he is and sets high expectations for himself.

“I don’t want it to sound like he’s too confident in himself, but he just has an understanding of everything he can and can’t do.” – Derek Stingley Sr. to The Athletic back in 2019.

And that confidence comes with unrealistic expectations for himself. In that same story from The Athletic, multiple people who know him discuss the unwieldy standards he sets for himself. The word they used is perfectionist. He was upset when he couldn’t complete a highlight reel interception. Ryan Clark recalled witnessing Stingley Jr. throwing fits when he couldn’t perfect a technique. He knows what he is capable of, and anything less is not good enough.

Former LSU teammate, and current NFL Safety Grant Delpit discussed how Stingley Jr. doesn’t showboat or celebrate when he makes a play, because making plays is what he is supposed to do.

“It’s normal to him making plays. You kind of expect to make plays.”-Grant Delpit to The Athletic

Areas of Concern

The number one concern is that he has played just 10 games in two seasons. The fact he should be able to test for NFL teams could alleviate those fears. If teams just had the old tape to go off it may hurt him, but if he shows up on Pro Day and looks a good as ever those fears could suddenly fade away. Still, when someone has already missed so much time when they are so young, it sets off red flags.

The Eagles have ignored those red flags in the past to varying degrees of success. It went very poorly with Sidney Jones. But it has also so far went well with Landon Dickerson. But the point is Eagles have shown to be willing to take a shot on players who drop because of injury red flags.

The other thing people will bring up is his competitive toughness. Not in terms of pass coverage, but in terms of tackling. But when it comes to tackling, he leaves a lot to be desired. He has the frame and the power to be a great tackler. He sometimes lacks the want to make tackles. That is not unusual for a cornerback. Asante Samuel, Deion Sanders, many Hall of Fame Caliber cornerbacks shied away from contact.

What Experts Say

Lance Zierlein- NFL Network

“Uniquely gifted cornerback with rare blend of size, speed and explosiveness that will have teams willing to judge his upside off of tape from two seasons ago. Stingley played in just 10 games over the last two years, offering flashes of his upside rather than sustained play. Regardless of season, he’s long, loose and extremely athletic. Elite speed and ball skills give him a chance to thrive as a bump-and-run corner capable of shadowing top talent around the field. He allows some separation from off-man but bursts to close distance instantly. He’s well-suited for a variety of zone coverages but needs to play with much better zeal and toughness in run support. Stingley will likely measure and test like Marshon Lattimore, Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie (depending on his weight), but he needs to find that breakthrough 2019 form in order to reach his potential as a lockdown cover talent.”

Dane Brugler- The Athletic

“A long, smooth athlete, Stingley can mirror and stay in phase against all different types of route runners. There will be an occasional focus lapse here and there, but the Baton Rouge native shows a natural feel for cutting off routes and disrupting the catch window. With his natural instincts and fluid athleticism, Stingley is an outstanding man-coverage NFL prospect with Pro Bowl-level talent.”

Conclusion

Derek Stingley Jr. has all the traits and talent to be a All pro Caliber Cornerback. If injuries cause him to fall into the Eagles lap, it will be hard to pass on him. The Eagles need a future at cornerback. Slay is in his 30’s. They have Maddox long term, but he can’t play outside. Stingley JR. would give them a great CB for cheap for several years.