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Derek Stingley Jr.: 2023 Breakout Star?

Will this year be Sting’s time to shine?

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

For the last two seasons the Houston Texans have had some head turning things happen early in the NFL Draft. This year it was dropping out of the #1 slot thanks to Lovie Smith, then jumping back up into the #3 slot to grab Will Anderson Jr. after taking C.J. Stroud at #2.

Last year Nick Caserio and crew had the choice between taking cornerbacks Sauce Gardner or Derek Stingley Jr. with the #3 overall pick. Another bit of Lovie Smith input brought Stingley to H-Town.

As we all saw, Gardner had a far better rookie season than Sting, landing Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. It’s enough to makes one wonder if current head coach DeMeco Ryans would have pushed to draft Sauce instead of Sting. Imagine Sauce and safeties Jalen Pitre and Jimmie Ward anchoring the back end of the Ryans’ defense... can you say “lockdown”?

But, I’m not bitter... you’re bitter.

Over at Adam Rank released his “State of the Texans 2023” piece yesterday and with it Rank prognosticates on a bright future for Sting.

Adam Rank

2023 breakout star: Derek Stingley Jr., cornerback. It feels like the secondary is going to end up being the best part of the Texans’ defense this year. Whether that prediction comes true will fall to some extent on 2022 second-round safety Jalen Pitre, who filled up the stat sheet in Year 1 despite missing too many tackles. That said, I think the unit’s rise will be driven largely by Stingley, the third overall pick last year, whose rookie season was cut short by a hamstring injury. Stingley said last month that he’s “seeing the whole field at a faster rate,” which is good, because when someone comes in with that kind of draft pedigree, he is expected to become a franchise player. Remember, the Texans chose him one spot ahead of Sauce Gardner, who went on to become Defensive Rookie of the Year for the Jets. If Stroud and Young are Flair and Sting, I guess that would make Stingley and Gardner the Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart of second-year cornerbacks.

Along with that, Rank also tosses some sunshine at Houston’s favorite new running back, Dameon Pierce:

One storyline people shouldn’t overlook: Dameon Pierce could be a certified star.

Pierce put up nearly 1,000 rushing yards in 13 games as a rookie in 2022 before his season was ultimately ended by a sprained ankle. His pass-catching numbers (30 grabs, 165 yards, one TD) were not impressive, but it’s hard to hold that against him, given the lack of production around him in Houston last year. He could end up sharing more of the load with offseason signee Devin Singletary, but even so, a leap to the next level could be in line for Pierce under Slowik, who saw firsthand how San Francisco got the most out of Christian McCaffrey (and, really, many other running backs).

If you’re looking for some time to kill, head over to and read the whole article. Good stuff Texans fans, good stuff.