Derek Stingley Jr. Declares for 2022 NFL Draft, Will Forgo Senior Season at LSU

Erin WalshJanuary 6, 2022

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA - SEPTEMBER 18: Derek Stingley Jr. #7 of the LSU Tigers warms up prior to a game against the Central Michigan Chippewas at Tiger Stadium on September 18, 2021 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. will enter the 2022 NFL draft, he announced Thursday in an article for The Players' Tribune.

Stingley wrote that he knows he's "ready to lock in and focus on what’s next" as he prepares for the jump to the next level:

"I can't say thank you enough to LSU and the fans for the support that you have given me throughout my time there, and how much I appreciate the moments we have shared together. They will never be forgotten. To my family that has been there every step of the way, thank you … your support means everything to me. I hope I continue to make you proud."

Stingley has been projected as a top NFL draft pick since his freshman season when he recorded six interceptions, 15 passes defended and 38 tackles. However, the 20-year-old has been limited by injuries over the last two seasons.

Stingley appeared in seven games in 2020, finishing with 19 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He played even less in 2021, appearing in three games before undergoing a foot procedure in October that sidelined him indefinitely. 

Despite his injury history, ESPN's Todd McShay (h/t 247Sports) believes Stingley could be a top pick in the 2022 draft and potentially a top-five selection:

“I don’t know if there’s a consensus because we haven’t seen much of him. Three games this year. He just hasn’t played much in the last two years. You go back to 2019 and you study that tape. He had six interceptions as a freshman, and he has everything you look for physically. He’s long, he’s got oily hips, just so loose in terms of his ability to turn and run. He’s got the top-end speed, he’s got the arm length you look for, he’s got the ball production I mentioned before with the six picks. But is he gonna be healthy enough? You’ve gotta study the medical if you’re an NFL team. And I think workouts are gonna be critical for him, not just combine and Pro Day workouts, but individual workouts for teams just trying to get a feel for where he is and has his game slipped any, or post-injury, is he gonna get back to the player he was in 2019? And if he is, I think he has a chance to be a top-5 pick. He’s that special from a talent standpoint.”

McShay listed Stingley second in his 2022 NFL draft rankings in October after he had been ruled out. It's unclear which teams might be interested in the young cornerback. 

Per B/R's NFL scouting department, Stingley is the top-ranked cornerback and No. 8 overall player. He's also listed as the best player in man coverage among all draft-eligible corners this year. 

Stingley will look to become the first Tigers cornerback since Tre'Davious White in 2017 to be drafted in the first round. 

The 2022 NFL draft is expected to be held at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas from April 28-30.