Last night, Nick Caserio flexed his general manager muscles in the first round of the NFL Draft for the first time in his life. While Caserio has been the Texans GM since early last year, the 2021 draft was bereft of a pick in the top two rounds for Houston.
When Caserio was finally able to select in round three, he went with quarterback Davis Mills, a guy almost no one saw coming. The selection was met with cries of dismay by the Houston faithful.
Since the 2021 season was an utter waste of time, it’s hard to know just yet if the Davis Mills pick has worked out - or if it ever will.
This year, Caserio’s first selection brought another shocker in Derek Stingley Jr. Most mock drafts had Houston taking either left tackle Evan Neal or Tackle/Guard Ikem Ekwonu. The few who sent a DB to H-Town gave us either Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner or Kyle Hamilton.
However, the Houston front office, coaching staff and scouts had zeroed in on Stingley Jr.
At his best Derek Stingley is not only the best corner in his draft, but maybe it’s best player. All the skills. Patience, technique, speed, physicality & ELITE ball skills. I got the film to prove it!!@LSUfootball #GeauxTigers pic.twitter.com/suY7UVjdaM— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) April 6, 2022
Early on in the pre-draft hype cycle, Stingley was widely viewed as the best defensive back in the draft - and some claimed the best athlete in the 2022 rookie pool. As scouts, coaches, GMs and other NFL talking heads dug deeper, a LOT of question marks about Stingley Jr arose.
And his draft stock appeared to plummet.
As this happened, fellow cornerback “Sauce” Gardner (my personal hope for Houston’s #1 pick) - selected by the New York Jets - saw his stock shoot through the roof, as did safety Kyle Hamilton’s, taken by the Baltimore Ravens.
With the opportunity to take any player not named Travon Walker, selected first overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars or Aidan Hutchinson who went second to the Detroit Lions, Nick Caserio selected the corner from LSU.
In terms of potential, Stingley Jr. seems to have a much higher ceiling than either Gardner or Hamilton.
In terms of red flags, Stingley has those two outdone just as easily.
Boom or bust pick, your name is Derek Stingley Jr.
He could be the next Jonathan Joseph or the next D.J. Swearinger... only time will tell.
Things to give us hope
#Texans GM Nick Caserio on taking CB Derek Stingley Jr at #3: pic.twitter.com/TjV6UwKtKZ— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) April 29, 2022
Over the last few weeks since the LSU Pro Day, a lot has bubbled up about teams doing deep-dive due diligence on Stingley Jr., and the reported outcome was repeatedly very positive.
While 2019 was a banner year for the former LSU cornerback, since then he’s carried a PFF single coverage grade of 90.7, second best among eligible NCAA players. This despite his Lisfranc injury.
. @LSUfootball Derek Stingley Jr. tells @WAFB9Sports over the phone the @HoustonTexans had no injury concerns about him, nor did any other NFL team. #LSU pic.twitter.com/3LWX7oYGtR— Jacques Doucet (@JacquesDoucet) April 29, 2022
While none of us have a crystal ball to predict Stingley’s future, we can take a gut check section snapshot.
Grade the Derek Stingley Jr. draft pick
This poll is closed
A - this dude is gonna be a Houston Legend!!
B - A solid starter for years to come
C - He’s better than Lonnie Johnson but not worth a top five pick
D - Expect a lot of hope and not a lot of production
F - total waste of a draft pick
This will be interesting to look back on in a year or two. For now, it’s a time capsule we’re just beginning to seal up.