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Texans Draft: CB Derek Stingley Jr. Brushes Off Naysayers

Derek Stingley Jr. is ready to put two years of inconsistent play and injuries behind going into his rookie campaign with the Houston Texans.

HOUSTON — Derek Stingley was widely considered the best defensive back in college football in 2019. He helped LSU win its fourth national championship title as a freshman. Stingley appeared in all 15 games for the undefeated Tigers, recording 38 tackles, 15 pass deflections and six interceptions. 

Had Stingley been eligible to declare for the NFL Draft in 2020, he would have joined his teammates Joe Burrow, K'Lavon Chaisson, Justin Jefferson and Patrick Queen as prospects taken in the first round. 

Stingley may have begun his career with the Detroit Lions, who drafted cornerback Jeff Okudah with the No. 3 overall pick.

The Houston Texans made Stingley the third player taken off the board Thursday during the 2022 NFL Draft. But his selection was not a lock two years removed from an exceptional freshman campaign. 

Injuries and a questionable on-field desire impacted Stingley's draft stock in the eyes of some. The Texans saw Stingley's talent differently and had the defensive back at the top of of their board. Stingley is grateful to the Texans and ready to prove those who doubted him wrong.

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"Whenever you are surrounded by people that know your true worth, it just makes you feel better as a person," Stingley said during his introductory press conference Friday. "I didn't think about the outside view. I didn't think about the outside perception on me.

"I knew where I was both on and off the field, but I still felt like I was at that level. People are always going to have something to say. When you look at all the other greats, there is always two sides to their struggles. I don't worry about that."

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Stingley is not concerned by his drop off in productivity the previous two seasons, citing unforeseen circumstances. And he is entering the NFL with the mindset of returning to the player that dominated the SEC in 2019

He is coming off a season where a torn ligament in his left foot limited him to three games. The year prior, Stingley missed three games. He was inactive for LSU's season opener in 2020 with a non-COVID-19 illness, and a sprained ankle forced Stingley to miss the final two games of the season.

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Caserio mentioned that the Texans' medical staff played a role in the selection of Stingley, just as with the pick of wide receiver John Metchie III.

Some considered Cincinnati defensive back Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner to be on the same level as Stingley. For anyone questioning his selection, Stingley pointed to the tape from all three seasons. 

"If you look at everything, you will realize that there has not been anything different in my play," Stingley said. "I feel great. I know when I get out there, I'll be excited to be out there with my new teammates."

Stingley finished his collegiate career with 73 tackles, 53 solo hits and 20 pass deflections. Houston coach Lovie Smith covets defensive backs who can make plays on the ball and aren't afraid to tackle.