The New York Giants are in a transformative year with a new defensive coordinator in place. After running a zone-heavy scheme under former Giants’ defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, New York will look to evolve its personnel to accommodate Don ‘Wink’ Martindale. One of the easiest ways to help Martindale achieve success is to find press-man coverage cornerbacks.
The Baltimore Ravens were a dominant defense for three straight seasons with Martindale calling plays. In all those seasons, he had three good man coverage cornerbacks and several role players who were solid. Last year, the cornerback position group suffered several injuries and the defense faltered.
The Giants have 2021 free-agent addition Adoree’ Jackson; Jackson is athletic and very good in man coverage. James Bradberry - who is more of a zone guy, but can play man coverage - is still on the roster, but cornerback remains a long-term need. Aaron Robinson has upside, as does Darnay Holmes in the slot.
The favorite cornerback among draft pundits tends to be Cincinnati's Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, but he could realistically go in the first four picks before the Giants are on the clock. LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. was once the prodigy in waiting at the cornerback position. He had one of the best cornerback seasons in recent memory during his true freshman season of 2019.
Stingley helped LSU win the National Championship in 2019 by only allowing a 37 percent catch rate with six interceptions and 15 passes defended. His line of scrimmage discipline and press ability was exceptional, and his unique physical gifts were widely discussed in college football circles. The incredible body control and calm nature when recovering seemed to easily translate to the next top 10 cornerback when he became draft eligible.
However, two years of lackluster football, along with a 2021 foot injury that required surgery, cast doubt on what seemed to be a certain fate. His 2020 film wasn’t as bad as advertised - it just wasn’t his 2019 film; with that said, he struggled against Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith. He also had a bad game to open the 2021 season against UCLA.
Even with the negatives in 2020 and 2021, there were still plenty of positive plays where his upside flashed. He wasn’t an inept player; he never allowed over 50 percent catch rate in college, albeit he was only targeted four times in 2021 through his three games played.
Stingley Jr. is a good football player who, if all of his non-football concerns aren’t chronic, can be a high upside steal in the mid-first round. I’m not advocating for the Giants to select Stingley Jr. I’m almost done with Gardner’s film, and I think I’ll like him more, but I do understand the intrigue and the fit. Here’s a video of Stingley Jr. that goes through all three years of his college play.