The Houston Texans took a big cut at a curveball early in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Texans made LSU defensive back Derek Stingley Jr. the No. 3 overall pick Thursday night.
It was the first surprise of an unpredictable draft that Stingley is the first corner off the board.
Stingley is sensational on paper. The former Bayou Bengal offers good NFL size (6-foot, 190 pounds) and speed (4.44 40-yard dash). He also comes from an athletic pedigree. His grandfather Darryl Stingley played in the NFL, while his father played in college at Purdue and was a minor league baseball player.
However, there are questions aplenty surrounding Stingley, who played just three games in his 2021 junior season due to an injured left foot and was never able to follow up a phenomenal freshman season. As a true freshman, Stingley had 38 tackles, six interceptions and 15 pass breakups in 15 starts; all those numbers would stand as LSU career highs. He failed to tally another interception in his following two seasons.
The Texans are shooting for the moon with this pick, believing his nose for the ball will fit perfectly in Lovie Smith's defense. Houston needed a difference-maker in the secondary for a defense that struggled mightily last season.
Based on his freshman year alone, Stingley projects as a lockdown corner who boasts the potential and tangibles to become a high-level NFL cornerback.
With their second first-round selection, the Texans ended up trading pick No. 13 to Philly, moving down to No. 15 and selecting offensive lineman Kenyon Green out of Texas A&M, a first-team All-SEC blocker in 2021.
Las Vegas is a place for gamblers, and the Texans just took a big role of the dice on a corner with an injury history with a top-three pick. It could pay off big if Stingley stays healthy.