LSU Football: NFL executives’ wild Derek Stingley Jr prediction

LSU football cornerback Derek Stingley Jr (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
LSU football cornerback Derek Stingley Jr (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

There’s little doubt that LSU football’s Derek Stingley Jr is the best defensive back in the nation.

Earlier this offseason, Pro Football Focus described LSU football‘s Derek Stingley Jr as not only the top returning player in the SEC, but also the top returning non-quarterback in the nation.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that a lot of folks believe Stingley, who will be a sophomore for the Tigers this fall, could’ve been a first-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Some unnamed NFL executives, however, had an even bolder prediction for the dynanic cornerback. They believe Stingley would’ve been a first-round pick before even playing a down at LSU.

“NFL executives told LSU staffers in August he could have been a first-round pick before he even played a college down”, reported The Athletic this week.

Their prediction was correct. Stingley made an instant impact on the Tigers’ defense in 2019.

And he’s only going to get better from here.

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What Stingley was able to do as a true freshman isn’t just rare — it’s nearly impossible.

Cornerback is one of the toughest positions to play in football. And Stingley, despite having no collegiate experience, excelled at cornerback in the toughest conference in college football in 2019.

Stingley’s PFF coverage grade of 91.9 led all FBS cornerbacks. PFF also noted that Stingley was exceptionally good in contested catch situations, allowing only nine of 33 targets to be caught. He also had five interceptions and 19 forced incompletions in those situations (per PFF).

One of the big reasons that Stingley has been able to perform at such a high level is the coaching he’s received from his dad, a former Purdue football player who was a head coach in the Arena Football League.

Stingley’s dad is his “toughest critic and his biggest fan” according to The Athletic. He’s helped Stingley improved on all the little things in his game while understanding that his son has an incredibly high football IQ (which means he has to be coached a bit differently….in other words, getting bored with the basics could be a concern).

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Stingley is talented enough to be the first overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. Only one defensive back, however, has been selected first overall in the draft (Gary Glick in 1956 by the Pittsburgh Steelers).

It’s a quarterback-driven league so it would be surprising to see Stingley go first overall for that reason. But if any cornerback has the talent to be the first defensive back in over half a century to go first overall, it’s Stingley.