LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. is heading to the NFL.
Stingley made the unsurprising announcement that he was entering the 2022 NFL draft on Thursday. Stingley's entry into the upcoming draft has been a foregone conclusion ever since he was one of the best cornerbacks in the country as a freshman in 2019.
"I can’t say thank you enough to LSU and the fans for the support that you have given me throughout my time there, and how much I appreciate the moments we have shared together," Stingley wrote in The Players' Tribune. "They will never be forgotten. To my family that has been there every step of the way, thank you … your support means everything to me. I hope I continue to make you proud."
Stingley could be the first defensive back taken in the draft and go in the top five. Yahoo Sports’ NFL draft analyst Eric Edholm had Stingley at No. 4 to the New York Jets in his latest mock draft on Dec. 21. Here’s what Edholm wrote about Stingley.
“Basically, they should be seeking playmakers of all shapes and sizes — there’s no spot on defense that doesn’t require upgrading. The NFL doesn’t have a wealth of tape on Stingley since his six-INT, 15-PD true freshman season, but his upside could be too good to pass up if his character and medical evaluations come out relatively clean.”
Stingley played 10 combined games in 2020 and 2021
That lack of tape Edholm referenced in his mock draft is because Stingley has played in just 10 games the past two seasons after appearing in all 15 of LSU's games as a freshman in 2019. He was an All-American selection as a freshman with six interceptions and 15 passes defensed on an LSU team that had 14 players taken in the 2020 NFL draft. Six of those 14 players were defenders, and it wasn’t much of a stretch to say that Stingley was the most impactful player on that side of the ball for the Tigers as they won the national title.
Stingley played in seven games in the COVID-impacted 2020 season and didn’t play after the Tide lost to Alabama on Dec. 5, 2020. He played in three games in 2021 before suffering a foot injury. He had surgery for that injury in early October and didn’t return to the field.