During the first round of the 2022 NFL draft on Thursday night, Derek Stingley Jr. was one of the biggest shockers as he was selected third overall by the Houston Texans.
Stingley joins a Texans defense in desperate need of help. In 2021, the Texans ranked 31st in yards per play allowed. 2020 wasn’t much better, with Houston ranking 30th in that category.
Stingley joins a shortlist of cornerbacks who have ever been selected in the top five. In the case of the Texans, the organization has never selected a defensive back this high.
At one point during draft season, it looked like Stingley was close to slipping out of the top ten. In the days leading up to the draft, Stingley saw his stock skyrocket, boosted by a strong Pro Day performance.
Only one other defender in LSU history has been selected this high. The Kansas City Chiefs used the third overall pick on defensive lineman Tyson Jackson in 2009.
It makes Stingley the first defensive back in LSU history to be chosen this quickly into the draft, which means a lot considering some of the names LSU has put out at that position.
Stingley joins the Texans at a time when the organization is at a crossroads. It’s been a mess in Houston recently, and it’ll take more than Stingley to fix it, but this could be the start of a rebuild. Here are five reasons why Stingley is a perfect fit with the Texans.
The Lovie Smith defense
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Few guys in the NFL this century have earned as much respect as Lovie Smith when it comes to defensive football. For years, Smith ran the cover two system. As the game has changed, he’s had to adapt some. That defense just doesn’t work anymore.
Smith will call the plays in Houston this year, opting not to hire a defensive coordinator. Selecting Stingley at No. 3 likely tells us that Smith sees Stingley as a scheme fit.
He could also just see Stingley as a generational talent at corner and that’s one you don’t pass up. Smith’s defenses require playmakers and DBs who can play in space, and Stingley can do that as well as anyone.
Stingley fills an immediate need
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The Texans defense has been bad – really bad.
It allowed 7.5 yards per pass in 2021, which ranked 30th in the NFL. Opposing offenses had a completion percentage of 66%, which ranked 25th in the league. 2020 wasn’t better. Houston’s defense allowed offenses to complete almost 70% of their passes, worst in the NFL.
Smith and the Texans brass discussed a need for corners last night, with Steven Nelson, Lonnie Johnson Jr, and Desmond King II being their top three prior to the selection of Stingley. From Day 1, Stingley could be the best corner on the roster and aid a defense in need.
Houston has always liked Stingley
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You can typically get a read on who a team likes by who they host for visits prior to the draft, and that’s exactly what the Texans did with Stingley. General Manager Nick Caserio spoke some about the pre-draft process they had with him.
“Organizationally, coaching staff, scouting staff — I’d say we put as much time into Derek as any player. I’d say our scouts did a phenomenal job to continue to research and make sure we were comfortable. Had a great visit with Derek, ”he said.
The Texans opted to take Stingley over Ahmad Gardner, the other top corner in the draft.
Stingley is versatile
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Considering how many needs the Texans have, they are going to have to get creative on defense to help make up for some deficiencies.
Having a guy like Stingley allows for some flexibility. His talent and ability allow him to do anything. He’s best in man coverage where he has the opportunity to fight for jump balls, but he has the speed and closing ability to play some zone. He’s got the burst to make a play at the line of scrimmage.
This is a team still finding their way and Stingley lets them use the best scheme for some other players that might need a more specific role.
LSU has a solid presence in Houston
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This one is more LSU-related than it is NFL, but Houston is a good place for a former Tigers player to be.
It is an area LSU heavily recruits, and prospects from there now get to see the third-overall pick from the program all over town as Stingley becomes one of the faces of the franchise.
Advantages like this are minimal but could end up mattering at least a bit down the road.
Outside of New Orleans, there may not be a major city with more LSU alumni than Houston, and if any of them are Texans fans, they now get to watch Stingley every week.