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Is Texans CB Derek Stingley finally paying dividends on the top pick?

The third overall pick from the 2022 draft is finally coming into his own.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Houston Texans Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not gonna lie, I really wanted the Houston Texans to draft Sauce Gardner in the 2022 NFL draft. Instead, former head coach Lovie Smith allegedly pushed hard to take Derek Stingley Jr.

Sting came with a lot of hype, but a lot more question marks. At one point he was considered the unchallenged best cornerback in college football. Then the injury bug bit him, again and again.

Once his three NCAA seasons were over, he played in 15 games (2019), seven games (2020) and then three games (2022) before landing with the Texans. His 2019 season apparently was enough to carry him to the first round of the NFL draft however. In that storied year, Sting had 31 solo tackles, one tackle for loss, 21 passes defensed and six interceptions. As you can imagine that was more than the entire rest of his collegiate production.

Since joining the H-Town ballers, Sting has played in 15 games, made 51 solo tackles, 13 passes defensed and five interceptions.

Two of those picks came last weekend at the expense of Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos’ offense.

One of the hopes and dreams in Texans’ fandom when DeMeco Ryans returned to handle the head coaching duties was the revitalization of Sting. If anyone can get the young player to rise back to his 2019 form, it’s ‘Meco.

And if last Sunday was any indication, Ryans is doing just that.

While the injury bug is still nibbling away at Sting’s career, he’s currently projecting to end the 2023 season with 93 solo tackles, 24 passes defensed and 16.5 interceptions.

Don’t run off to DraftKings and drop any bennies on that interception number, since it’s skewed by the gifts from Wilson last Sunday. But, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

And, so far, that’s way better than the 2022 final stats: 35 solo tackles, five passes defensed and one interception.

Speaking of Sauce Gardner, he and the New York Jets are coming to town this weekend. Can Sauce stop Nico Collins from lighting up the Jets’ D? Will Sting outshine the other 2022 top DB prospect? Surprising more people aren't talking about that...