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The enigma that is Derek Stingley Jr. and why he could be the Cowboys’ “Lamb/Parsons” pick this year

What if this potentially elite corner falls to the Cowboys at 24?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 LSU at UCLA Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys are going to get a good football player with their first-round pick. The way the talent is laid out in this draft, they’d almost have to. While this collection of college players doesn’t offer a surplus of blue-chippers (there are about 10 by my count), there are roughly 15 players graded in the 1-2 range. That is just enough players to allow the Cowboys to get in on the action and select a player from this tier.

So, even in the worst-case scenario, the Cowboys will likely come out with a quality player and it could very well play out to where that player is one of the top guards in the draft. Earlier in the week, we discussed how either Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green or Boston College’s Zion Johnson will almost certainly be the Cowboys' first-round selection. How convenient. Wouldn’t that just be dandy!

While few would complain about that situation because of the huge need at the guard position, it’s possible things don’t play out like that. Jerry Jones himself said that an offensive lineman will likely be the pick unless a “CeeDee Lamb or Micah Parsons” is there. The Cowboys have been very fortunate in the last two drafts to get a player who has significantly outperformed their draft position. Lamb was taken 17th overall by the Cowboys but was projected to go 10th overall in a re-draft. And while that ended up being a great value pick for Dallas, the selection of Parsons is even better. He was taken 12th overall but is projected to go 4th overall in a re-draft. That’s some good drafting.

Could the Cowboys dare pull off yet another Day 1 draft heist? My answer would be probably not, but as we’ve seen far too many times before, crazy things can happen and the Cowboys often find themselves square in the middle of such craziness. That leads us to today’s topic of conversation, which is - what player would be too good to pass up that would push the Cowboys away from addressing the offensive line? The answer...

CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

It feels a little thin the LSU star corner could fall to pick 24, but we should always be open to the possibility of crazy stuff happening. Stingley is one of the enigmas in the NFL draft as he was a shining star after his freshman season, but hasn’t shined as bright over the past two years. Injuries have certainly played a part in that and for that reason, his stock continues to fall. But would he really fall that far? Well, Mike Tannenbaum of ESPN must think so as he mocked Stingley to the Cowboys a couple of days ago.

Let’s not get too crazy here. Stingley’s skill set makes him one of the true lock-down corner prospects in this draft. Oh sure, people are all about the “Sauce” right now as Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner has jumped Stingley in most rankings, but that could be a mistake. The key points to support Stingley’s top 10 draft positioning are (1) the context of his drop in production and (2) the tape.

On Friday’s episode of The Star Seminar on the Blogging The Boys podcast network, Rabblerousr and I played an Oscar-theme game with special guest Brianna Dix! where we handed out several awards, including what would be her “Sophie’s Choice” moment in the first round of the NFL Draft. Make sure to subscribe to our podcast network so you don’t miss any of our episodes. Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.

Statistically, Stingley hasn’t come anywhere close in recent years to what he showed us during his freshman year. Why is that? Well, injuries have taken him out of action quite a bit. He only played 10 games over the past two seasons compared to 15 games his freshman season. Then, there’s the fact that opposing teams stayed away from him as teams continuously attacked the middle of the field against the Tigers' defense.

That is why it is so important to trust the tape. While his freshman season gave us a lot more action moments to look at, his traits are evident regardless of which year you’re evaluating. He’s still a smooth runner with both great quickness and great recovery speed. He still sinks his hips and is lightning out of his breaks. He’s still a physical player who uses his hands well in press coverage and is rarely out of position. And even though he has a grand total of zero picks these past two years compared to the six he had his freshman year, there is no evidence that would indicate he’s stopped being a ball hawker.

Stingley wouldn’t be touted as a high first-round pick if he had a phenomenal freshman season followed by two years of regression. Every morsel of his tape matters and while the production wasn’t there the last two years, he’s every bit as good as he was his freshman season. If he slides too far, he’s going to end up being the steal of the draft for someone. Ten years ago the Cowboys gambled by taking an LSU corner in the first round and it didn’t work out. Landing Stingley at 24 could be a chance at redemption.