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It is never too early to start digging into the NFL draft.
Looking at the 2022 NFL draft class there are two top defenders that could be looking to make the jump to the next level. According to ESPN’s Todd McShay, they rank among his initial top 50 big board (subscription required).
No. 3: Derek Stingley Jr, Cornerback
Mik(AP Photo/John Bazemore)
What Todd McShay Says…
Stingley has been a standout in college football for two seasons, bursting onto the scene with six interceptions as a freshman in 2019. The numbers weren’t as eye-popping last season, but he still played a big role for LSU on defense. He is long, fast and physical, and he’s the premier defensive back in this year’s class with 20 passes broken up over two seasons. Versatility is also key for Stingley, who can play press-man, off-coverage, free safety and the overhang position. A bonus: Stingley also has experience returning punts.
What LSU Wire Says…
All eyes will be on No. 7 whenever he takes the field. Whether that is lining up at his traditional spot at cornerback or taking snaps on offense, Derek Stingley Jr will be under the microscope. This is for good reason, Stingley is an obvious choice at the top of any draft board. He put the world on notice during the 2019 season, which made the 2020 campaign all the more disappointing. He dealt with injuries and the coaching was less than stellar.
In year three, a return to the 2019 form is what we are waiting to see. With Daronte Jones making the calls on defense, Stingley should be in a better position than he was under Bo Pelini. When Jake Peetz calls his number on the offensive side, it will be must-watch TV. He has the ball skills and understanding of running routes will only enhance his game on the defensive side.
Stingley is listed as No. 3 behind a pair of quarterbacks in Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma) and Sam Howell (North Carolina).
No. 45: Mike Jones Jr, Linebacker
Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports
What McShay Says…
A transfer out of Clemson, Jones plays the overhang position and brings serious versatility to the LSU defense. He has range both in coverage and against the run, but he is still developing. I picture him potentially as a weakside or sub-package dime linebacker in the NFL. In 10 games last season at Clemson, Jones had 26 tackles, four tackles for loss, two interceptions and a forced fumble.
What LSU Wire Says…
In an effort to replace the production lost by Jabril Cox, Ed Orgeron took to the transfer portal to bring in former Clemson linebacker Mike Jones Jr. He was part of the 2019 team that lost to LSU in the CFP National Championship game. Now he can help the Tigers defense return to prominence.
Jones could look to head to the NFL, he is the No. 6 linebacker on McShay’s list. Just behind Alabama’s Christian Harris. Provided that Jones excels in the LSU system, he could be NFL bound as a day two selection in the draft.