Should the Eagles Trade Up for Derek Stingley?
(Image Credit On3) The NFL Draft is right around the corner, and the draft week hype is already in full effect. Yesterday, I wrote about some of my favorite receiver prospects in the first round of the draft, and today I'll be taking a deep dive into my favorite defensive back prospect in this year’s class.
Yes, the Eagles still have Darius Slay who is arguably a top five corner in the NFL, but he is 31 years old and won't be here forever. With Steven Nelson now in Houston, the Eagles have a massive need at the second starting corner spot opposite Slay, and it looks pretty evident that Howie Roseman would look to add one through the draft. Who better to add across from Darius Slay than Derek Stingley Jr., who is one of the best cornerback prospects to come out of college in quite a while. Stingley is virtually a lock for the top ten, and he has a great case to go top five, but I think Howie Roseman would be foolish to not at least explore the possibility of landing one of the best corner prospects in a long while if the opportunity presents itself.
Potential Trade Packages
Last year, the Dolphins traded picks 12, 123 (fourth round), and their 2022 first round pick to the Eagles for pick 6 and 156 (fifth round). Even though the 2021 draft class was one of the most top-heavy classes in the last decade, we would likely see a similar trade package if Philadelphia were to jump up and snag Derek Stingley. I think it is extremely unrealistic to expect Howie Roseman to move into any of the top four spots, as that would cost a king’s ransom, and the Giants certainly won't trade picks five or seven to the Eagles no matter the package. I also don't think that the Jets would pass up on Stingley if he were to fall to the tenth pick, so that leaves the Panthers, Falcons, and Seahawks.
Eagles Receive Picks: 6 and 147
Panthers Receive Picks: 15, 18, and 101
The most likely scenario for the Eagles to land Stingley is if they trade up to pick six with the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers don't have a second or third round draft pick this year, so I would not be shocked to see them look to trade down to acquire more assets for the future. On the Eagles side of this, not only would they get one of the top corners in this class, but they still have their second and third round picks, and they now have two fourth rounders on top of that, giving Howie Roseman plenty of ammunition throughout the rest of the draft. An added bonus is that they would also steal Stingley from division rival New York Giants, which always makes Philly fans happy when they can put a wrench in the Giants plans.
Eagles Receive Picks: 9, 72, and 109
Seahawks Receive Picks: 15, 51, 83, and 143
After trading away Russell Wilson, the Seahawks are another team that looks like they could be going through a rebuild, so it would not be shocking in the least to see them trade down and acquire more draft picks. Seattle is a wild card in this draft, and I could see them jumping on the opportunity to build a defense around Derek Stingley, but at the same time, Pete Carroll could also be interested in acquiring more draft picks for the inevitable rebuild. In this hypothetical trade, the Eagles would be able to land one of the top corners while still having pick 18, 72, 101, 109, and 142. If this were the case, I would not be shocked to see Howie Roseman trade down with pick 18 and/or potentially move back into the second round with the later draft picks he acquired.
Derek Stingley Jr.
CB, LSU: 6'1", 194
Derek Stingley is a very intriguing prospect because we really are only judging Stingley off his freshman year in college. When you think of a prospect that peaked as a freshman and couldn't stay on the field as a sophomore or junior, 99.9% of the time they would not be considered a first-round prospect, let alone a potential top five pick, but Derek Stingley Jr. is that 0.01%. Stingley was widely considered the best player in his recruiting class, and when he got to LSU in the 2018-19 season as an early enrollee for Bowl practices, former LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said that the 17-year-old high school senior was already the best corner on the team. During his freshman year at LSU in 2019, Aranda and head coach Ed Ogeron said that they thought Stingley was the best player on the defense as a true freshman, which is pretty remarkable when you consider that LSU's defense consisted of current NFL players Grant Delpit, Kristian Fulton, Patrick Queen, and K'Lavon Chaisson. So as a true freshman, not only was Stingley was the best player on a defense that consisted of multiple first round picks, but he was the best defensive back in the country. At 18 years of age, going up against SEC wideouts, Derek Stingley recorded a PFF grade of 91.7, which was the best in the country, and only allowed a passer rating of 51.4 and a completion percentage of 37%. Stingley was the best defensive player on one of the best collegiate teams of all time, and NFL executives went as far as saying that Stingley would likely be a top five pick if he could enter the draft as a freshman. Surely Stingley had a great 2020 and 2021 campaign, right? Well, injuries held back Stingley in both his sophomore and junior season, as he only saw the field on ten different occasions, and he failed to record an interception in those ten games. However, Stingley only allowed 15 catches on 33 targets during his sophomore and junior season, but that was nothing compared to his phenomenal freshman campaign.
What Stingley Does Well:
As a true freshman, Stingley put up one of the best seasons by a college cornerback ever. Since Stingley was a true freshman and only just 18 years of age, SEC offensive coordinators made it a point to target him early and often, but this didn't work out too well. Stingley was targeted 92 times in 15 games as a rookie, but he only allowed 34 catches and recorded 6 interceptions and 15 pass deflections. Aranda and his staff allowed Stingley to play press-man the majority of the time, as he played press-man on 49% of his snaps in his college career. Stingley played what is called bump-n-run technique where the corner uses his hands and arms to throw the receiver off his route, forcing him to the sideline, then the corner will match the receiver and read his body to know when the ball is coming. Stingley is amazing at bumping receivers off their routes and taking them completely out of the progression, but what is even more impressive is Stingley's hip fluidity, footwork, and recovery speed. Because Stingley played the majority of his snaps in press-man and also played a ton of bump-n-run tech, he did get tested deep a several occasions. He did allow some deep completions here and there as a freshman, but on the very few plays he did get beat, he was always in the receiver’s hip pocket contesting the ball due to his elite recovery speed. Stingley also has amazing ball skills, and I'll go as far as saying that I haven't seen ball skills as good as his since Jalen Ramsey was at Florida State. Stingley also has the unique ability to read a receiver’s body and run the route for them, leading to a ton of interceptions and deflections. Stingley has every trait you want in a lockdown corner, and he has the potential to be the best corner at the next level, and I don’t say that lightly. His footwork and hip fluidity allow for Stingley to stay in the receiver’s hip pocket, break on the ball, and run the route with them and even better than them on the majority of occasions, which we can see plenty of in the clip below. Stingley was going up against Bengals superstar wideout Ja'Marr Chase back when they both were at LSU in 2019, I’ll let the video do the talking, but man is he special or what?
Areas for Improvement:
The one thing that could cause Stingley to fall is injuries. Stingley only played ten collegiate games over the last two seasons after playing all 15 games as a freshman, and Stingley failed to replicate the success of his freshman season in the limited action during his sophomore or junior seasons. While the injuries are concerning with Stingley, he put all of these questions to rest with his freakishly insane Pro Day where he ran a 4.37, had a 38.5-inch vertical, and a 10'2" broad jump. While these measurements won't keep Stingley from getting hurt in the future, it is a positive sign because it shows that he is fully recovered from his foot injury. When watching tape, Stingley struggles in zone coverage, often feeling lost and uncertain of where he is supposed to be and struggles passing off receivers in zone. Stingley played 49% of his coverage snaps in press-man, so he doesn't have much experience in zone coverage either. If a team wants Stingley to come in and primarily be a zone corner, his talents will not be maximized, as he is at his best when he is playing the receiver, not the ball. When Stingley is indeed playing the receiver and matching his movements, Stingley is elite in coverage and always makes plays on the ball due to his elite ball skills. Another thing with Stingley that shows up on tape is his effort as a tackler. At times he looks like he is a safety coming down to make a big time hit, and other times the effort is lacking, as he missed 17.9% of his career tackle attempts. Stingley has the potential to be a sure handed tackler, but the effort is lacking at times. The majority of these concerns with Stingley are due to a lack of effort, and many scouts believe he quit on an LSU team that was dysfunctional after the 2019 season. Most of these problems did not show up on tape during his freshman season, so scouts are not extremely worried with Stingley's effort.