Preseason Scouting: LSU Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.

In this first look at one of the top players in the 2022 NFL Draft class, our Senior NFL writer Corey Seeley dives deep on LSU’s special cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr.

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LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. is entering his junior season with a massive chip on his shoulder. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Stingley enrolled at his hometown university as a consensus five-star recruit in 2019.

And what an impact he made.

As a true freshman, Stingley started all 15 games as the Tigers went undefeated and finished the college football season with a national championship. Stingley led the SEC in interceptions (6) and pass breakups (15).

LSU’s 2020 was a down year as the Tigers finished with a 5-5 record. Stingley battled through an injury-riddled sophomore campaign in which he missed three games.

Leading up to the 2021 college football season, Stingley received the high honor of wearing LSU’s historic No. 7 jersey for his junior season. LSU greats like Tyrann Mathieu, Leonard Fournette, and Patrick Peterson all wore the Tigers No. 7 proudly.

Stingley is widely regarded as the top cornerback in the 2022 NFL draft class.

DEREK STINGLEY JR., JUNIOR, CORNERBACK, LSU

Height: 6’1

Weight: 195 lbs

Jersey: No. 7

High School Star Rating: 5*

Career Stats: 22 starts | 6 INT | 20 PD | 65 TOT | 1 FF


Strengths:

Stingley has the elite combination of size, speed, length and fluidity that you see in some of the best cornerbacks in the NFL today. Stingley not only has the speed to cover speedy receivers vertically, but also the footwork and change of direction ability to mirror any receivers’ routes, keeping coverages tight. Stingley possesses exceptional ball tracking ability and has a knack for putting himself in a position to make a play on the ball. Stingley’s experience playing the wide receiver position shows out when in tight coverage as he has the awareness of tracking the route and adjusting swiftly at the catch point.

His coaches and teammates at LSU continue to rave about his work ethic and leadership, both on and off the field. And I’m expecting Stingley to bring those traits to the NFL level.

Weaknesses:

I’ve watched more Derek Stingley Jr. tape than any other prospect eligible for the 2022 NFL draft, and it’s extremely difficult to find visible holes in Stingley’s game.

If we’re nitpicking, Stingley can improve on becoming a more consistent tackler in the run game. He also needs to be aware of hand usage at both the line of scrimmage, and in coverage. Stingley plays the position with a physicality to his game, but he sometimes tends to get a little handsy with receivers, which will lead to future penalties at the NFL level.

Overall:

Stingley has every trait and tool teams look for in a starting NFL cornerback, and then some. His fluid movement, football awareness and instincts, are as elite as you’ll see in any college cornerback prospect. Stingley possesses the versatility to be a franchise cornerback in the NFL as he’s seen playing time within multiple alignments at LSU, and he’s more than capable of playing in both press and off-coverage. He has the flexibility to be moved around the field or stick with one receiver throughout a game.

NFL Comparison: Jalen Ramsey

This is a lofty comparison to give, but I firmly believe that right now, Stingley is the best cornerback prospect since Jalen Ramsey. But that’s not the reason why I’m giving out this comp. Ramsey and Stingley both have similar size and length, and both players play the position with physicality and excellent instincts and awareness. The manner in which Stingley mirrors the movements of the receiver he’s following reminds me a lot of Ramsey. Both players play the position with an intelligence to their game while also utilizing their elite athletic traits.

NFL Projection: Top 10 pick / Day 1 Starter

If the 2022 NFL draft were tomorrow, Stingley would undoubtedly be a first-round pick – and most likely top-10 or top-15. If he can put together a stellar junior season, the sky’s the limit on how high he could be drafted next April.

Key 2021 Matchups: Nov. 6 vs. Alabama / Nov. 13 vs. Arkansas

Alabama – Stingley did not have a stellar performance last season against Alabama’s DeVonta Smith. Alabama won’t have Smith or Waddle this time around, but we all know an Alabama wide receiver usually rises to stardom; John Metchie III, for example. Regardless of the receiver(s) Stingley will face, Alabama is a matchup to watch closely.

Arkansas – Treylon Burks is one of the more physical wide receivers that Stingley will face this season. Assuming Stingley follows Burks throughout the game, this should be a solid test for Stingley and a fun matchup to watch.

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