HOUSTON — As the Houston Texans discussed what they’d do with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, general manager Nick Caserio said there was “definitely a consensus organizationally” of using that pick on cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.
Caserio joked that “all coaches lobby for their respective positions,” but new coach and former defensive coordinator Lovie Smith had to be thrilled to add a shutdown corner to his defense.
Caserio said Stingley “fits the profile of what we’re trying to do defensively” and how the Texans are “building the program.”
“He’s been a productive player,” Caserio said. “Was a productive player early on in his career. Had some bumps in the road there in ‘20 and ‘21, but in the end, we felt comfortable with Derek. We think he’s a good player.”
The Texans also started the day off with the 13th pick, but they traded back with the Philadelphia Eagles for the 15th, 124th, 162nd and 166th overall picks. With the second first-round pick, Houston took offensive guard Kenyon Green to help a running game that finished second-to-last last season.
As for Stingley, he is joining a secondary that allowed the second-most yards per game last season and was ranked 29th in yards per pass attempt allowed on defense, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Houston especially struggled at cornerback, moving Desmond King II outside from the slot during the season and moving Lonnie Johnson Jr. back to cornerback from safety. Texans cornerbacks allowed 8.3 yards per attempt as the nearest defenders in coverage, the fourth-worst in the league, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Houston also allowed 8.1 yards per attempt on passes outside of the numbers last season, which was the third-most in the NFL.
Not only is Stingley tied for the highest pick used on a cornerback in the common draft era (since 1967), he is the highest the Texans have ever drafted a defensive back.
“Derek’s played at a high level really since he walked into the building at LSU,” Caserio said. “Runs well, plays with good technique, plays the ball well, he plays under control [and] plays with good anticipation.”
The last time the Texans drafted a cornerback in the first round was when they took Kevin Johnson with the 16th overall pick in 2015. Johnson, who retired before the 2021 season, only played four years in Houston and played more than 12 games in a season once for the Texans.
Stingley has only played in 10 games in the last two seasons, needing season-ending surgery on his foot in September 2021. But in 2019, Stingley had an outstanding season as part of the LSU team that went 15-0 en route to a national championship.
Since 2019, Stingley’s 35% completion percentage allowed is second only to Cincinnati’s Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner among 85 defenders with 100 plays as the targeted defender, according to Sports Info Solutions.
“Whenever I get there, I’ll show them that I work hard and I don’t give up until I figure something out,” Stingley said.