The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team.
It's the start of the third season in the Ron Rivera era, and the Washington Commanders have a pristine opportunity to strengthen their roster.
In his first season as Washington's head coach, Rivera took Chase Young, who became the 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year, with the No. 2 overall pick. The next season, he drafted Jamin Davis with the No. 19 overall pick, and the former Kentucky Wildcat showed promise in his first season.
Now, the Commanders have the No. 11 overall pick, and analysts are predicting them to go with a plethora of positions, from linebacker to safety and quarterback, at that spot.
In anticipation for that selection, Commanders.com will highlight one mock draft from a draft expert each week and delve into how that player would fit with Washington. Here are the players covered in previous weeks:
Next up, we're taking a look at Buck Brooks' latest mock draft, which can be found on NFL.com.
Derek Stingley, Jr., CB, LSU
The Commanders seem pleased with the mix of youth and experience they have at cornerback. Kendall Fuller is the clear leader of the position, and the team invested draft and free agency capital in William Jackson III and Benjamin St-Juste.
There's nothing wrong with fortifying the position even further, and given the defense did not perform nearly as well as in 2020, it wouldn't hurt to do so. So, why not add one of, if not the best corner in the draft to the group? That's a move NFL Network's Bucky Brooks can get behind.
"As a five-star talent with the tools to play as a shutdown corner on the island, Stingley could take the Commanders' defense to the next level if he locks in and performs to his potential," Brooks said in his latest mock draft.
"Impressive" is one way to put it; "exceptional" is more accurate. He led the SEC with six interceptions, which was also ranked fifth in college football, and you can add 15 passes defensed -- that was second-best in the NCAA -- to a freshman season that helped him earn First Team All-SEC and First Team All-American by _The Associated Press. _
And just to show how highly-regarded Stingley was by the Tigers' program, they switched his number from 24 to 7 -- the same one worn by Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu.
"This ranking is all about his upside," wrote ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., who has Stingley as the ninth-best prospect on his big board. "His freshman film, when he was one of the best players on LSU's national title team, is tremendous."
Brooks isn't the only person from NFL.com who thinks Stingley would be a good fit in Washington. Analytics expert Cynthia Frelund also sees a path where the Commanders take Stingley, and she pointed out that PFF recorded Stingley's allowed completion rate at 41%.
"That kind of sticky coverage would be a huge boon to a Commanders defense that just allowed a 100.8 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks in 2021. Pairing Stingley with Kendall Fuller, who was the bright spot of this secondary last season, creates the most value."
Like Kiper and Brooks, there are several analysts who will point out that Stingley's performance took a step back in 2020 and 2021. However, that fails to take a few critical points into account. The Tigers' 2020 defense as a whole was a far cry from what it was in 2019. The unit gave up at least 40 points three times, and Stingley missed three games with a mixture of illnesses and injuries.
In 2021, Stingley played in fewer games; he suffered a Lisfranc injury three games into the season that sidelined him for the remaining 10 games, including the Texas Bowl game against Kansas State. Still, Stingley only allowed a completion rate of 41.1% for his college career, and as Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner put it, "it's not as if that talent went anywhere."
"Regardless of season, he's long, loose and extremely athletic." Zierlein wrote. "Elite speed and ball skills give him a chance to thrive as a bump-and-run corner capable of shadowing top talent around the field."
Stingley chose not to participate in the Combine, instead electing to wait for his Pro Day on April 6. Reports have come out that he has made a full recovery from his Lisfranc injury, and he intends to participate in all the drills.
However, there was already plenty of evidence that Stingley is more than capable of hanging with top receivers. Just check out how he matched Ja'Marr Chase step-for-step in the footage from LSU's practice.
And the lack of playing time isn't changing people's minds that he's the top corner available.
"Stingley has the ideal length teams are looking for in cornerbacks," wrote Bleacher Report’s scouting department. "Paired with his elite athleticism, ball skills and scheme flexibility, he should be an early pick for the cornerback positions.