INDIANAPOLIS – LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.'s 2022 NFL Draft stock might have cooled a bit in the past year, but based on his press conference Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine, his confidence has not wavered.
Stingley declared himself the best CB in the class of '22 during his session with reporters.
"I know myself and I know that when I'm at the best version of myself, I'm the greatest," he said.
Stingley will not be working out at the combine with his fellow DBs on Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NFL Network) as he continues to rehab from the Lisfranc surgery he underwent on his left foot on Sept. 29, but he plans to be a full participant in LSU's pro day on April 6. The former first-team All-SEC pick said he was given a 4-6 month timetable for recovery and is almost back to 100 percent after missing all but three games in 2021. He recently resumed running and is starting to be able to plant on the left foot.
After earning consensus first-team All-American honors as a freshman in 2019, Stingley did not receive the same rave reviews for his play in 2020 -- when he missed three games (one due to illness and two due to ankle injury) -- and his injury-shortened 2021 season. Once considered the clear favorite to be the CB1 in his class, NFL.com analysts Daniel Jeremiah, Bucky Brooks and Lance Zierlein each have Cincinnati's Sauce Gardner rated as the 2022 draft's top cornerback. Jeremiah rates Stingley as the No. 2 CB available, while Brooks and Zierlein both have him as the CB3.
Stingley did not agree with any sentiment that his performance declined, though.
"Going into my second year and throughout my second year, I felt it was just as good as my freshman year," he said. "Freshman year I had over 90 targets. Sophomore year I had 30. If anything, that should just say I was doing my job."
While he'll have to wait until the Tigers' pro day to give scouts another look at what he can do on the field, Stingley will get the opportunity to answer questions from NFL teams during interviews at the combine. He said the Giants and Jets, who each hold two picks inside the top 10, are among the squads he has met with in Indianapolis.
Per Stingley, teams have not expressed concern about his foot injury during their interviews with him.