Derek Stingley Jr. becomes a strong candidate for Steelers at pick 20

Derek Stingley Jr. #7 of the LSU Tigers. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Derek Stingley Jr. #7 of the LSU Tigers. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers had their brass on hand for LSU’s Pro Day. Here’s why cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. now becomes a strong candidate in round one.

Nearly every single sign points to the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting a quarterback in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. They have met with each of the top five QB prospects multiple times this offseason — including dinner meetings, Pro Day visits, and now in-house 30-visits.

It makes sense too. While I don’t believe that this is a strong quarterback class, Mike Tomlin no doubt wants to find Ben Roethlisberger’s successor and Kevin Colbert would like to go out on a high note.

However, if there is a player who could sway the Steelers from taking a quarterback with their first pick this year, perhaps its cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.

LSU held their Pro Day on April 6th, and all eyes were on Stingley. Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were in attendance, according to NFL Network’s James Palmer.

Steelers fans have a healthy fear of selecting cornerbacks early in the draft. The past two first-round picks used at the position have been Artie Burns (2016) and Chad Scott (1997). Even their most recent second-round cornerback, Senquez Golson (2015), failed to dress for a single regular-season game with the Steelers.

As a prospect, it’s safe to say that Stingley does not fall into this category. Stingley was a former five-star recruit who had one of the best freshman seasons we have ever seen at the CB position. Over the past two years, Stingley has been banged up often and his play has suffered at times as a result, but there’s no question the talent is immensely better than what Pittsburgh is used to at the position.

But is Stingley a realistic first-round candidate that Pittsburgh could explore?

Steelers could be tempted by Stingley if he slides in the draft

Assuming Stingley had stayed healthy over his final two seasons at LSU, he would have been a prospect that Pittsburgh couldn’t have dreamed of landing — a sure-fire top-10 draft choice. However, as it stands, it appears he could be a candidate that could slide down a bit on draft day.

If this is the case, the Steelers need to be prepared to pounce. While there is no position in football more important than quarterback, Stingley is a significantly better overall prospect than any QB in this year’s class, and Pittsburgh should be chomping at the bit to add a cornerstone talent in the LSU star.

Landing Stingley in the first round could be a treat, and with Tomlin and Colbert in attendance for his Pro Day, he’s certainly on the map as a candidate. This doesn’t mean that Pittsburgh couldn’t also come away with a QB in 2022.

After expressing so much interest in each of the top five candidates, the Steelers could elect to take Stingley at pick 20 then trade back up into the tail end of the first round for a QB they like who falls.

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Obviously, this is assuming that Stingley does indeed see his name called in the second half of the first round on draft day. When it’s all said and done, I would still expect Stingley to be a top-15 pick. The talent is just too good. However, if he slips, the Steelers need to be prepared to pounce.