No. 1 Cornerback Prospect Falls to Ravens in Latest Mock Draft

Ravens Derek Stingley

Getty LSU cornerback Derek Stingley reacts to a play during a September 2021 game.

The Baltimore Ravens will be hoping that a top-10 prospect falls to them at the 14th overall pick at the NFL Draft in April, and one draft expert thinks that the Ravens could have a shot at top-ranked cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah predicted that the Ravens would draft Stingley in his latest mock draft on February 22, writing, “The Ravens need to address the offensive line, but they usually stick to a best-player-available philosophy.”

Taking Stingley with the 14th overall pick would certainly reflect a best-player-available approach, as cornerback is not thought to be a top need in Baltimore. The Ravens currently have three starting cornerbacks set to return in 2022 in Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Tavon Young, though Peters and Young have been both mentioned as potential cap casualties. 

With 2021 14-game starter Anthony Averett is set to hit free agency, the Ravens could be looking for depth at cornerback after their injury-ravaged season, especially after watching the division-rival Cincinnati Bengals reach the Super Bowl with their dangerous trio of wide receivers.

Though Stingley is Jeremiah’s second-favorite cornerback prospect – the NFL Network analyst prefers the Cincinnati Bearcats’ Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner” – the LSU standout is preferred by most top draft experts.

In fact, not only do Pro Football Focus, CBS Sports and Matt Miller’s The Draft Scout all have Stingley as the top cornerback of the 2022 draft class, they also believe he is a top five prospect overall.

Stingley was one of the best corners in college football in 2019, earning a 91.7 overall grade from PFF, limiting opposing quarterbacks to just a 52.8 passer rating when targeted. 

But a down year in 2020 – which included a leg injury – followed by a season-ending foot injury in 2021 could raise doubts about Stingley’s ability to consistently produce in the NFL, potentially dropping him out of the top 10.


Stingley Film Study

If Stingley were to fall to the Ravens at 14, they would be wise to pounce on the draft’s top cornerback and not think twice.

The 6-foot-1 corner brings the size and athleticism necessary to play cornerback in the NFL, with ball skills at the catch point that could even rival some of the league’s top receivers.

Stingley would be a playmaking addition to a Ravens defense that managed just nine interceptions in 2021. He could even learn from a premier ballhawk in Marcus Peters, provided that he’s around next season.

 

Stingley’s inconsistency in his college career is the major question mark surrounding him, especially given the role of injuries in 2020 and 2021. His performance at the NFL Combine in March will be key to prove to scouts that he hasn’t lost one bit of his athleticism since his freshman year.


Other Available Options at 14

Jeremiah’s mock draft saw several potential Ravens targets – including offensive tackles Trevor Penning and Ikem Ekwonu and defensive end Travon Walker – taken before the Ravens were on the clock, though other top options besides Stingley were available.

Georgia Bulldogs defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt could be a pocket-pushing interior presence that could allow the Ravens to move away from their blitz-heavy defensive scheme under new coordinator Mike MacdonaldMacdonald may even prefer defensive end David Ojabo, who he coached at Michigan in 2021 to the best season of Ojabo’s career.

Both players were available to the Ravens with the 14th pick, though they were taken later in the first round.

But the most surprising player for the Ravens to pass on would be Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross, commonly thought to be among the draft’s top 10 prospects. He’s a dominant pass protector who can likely start at either left or right tackle in the NFL, though he’s not the best run-blocker in the class.

The Ravens clearly need an infusion of young talent at offensive tackle. Their current roster features two tackles who are coming off major injuries and haven’t played since 2019 in Ronnie Stanley and Ja’Wuan James, and no one wants another season of 33-year-old Alejandro Villanueva at left tackle. Baltimore did extend Patrick Mekari after he held down the fort at right tackle for much of the season, but he may be needed at center with Bradley Bozeman hitting free agency.

While Stingley would be a tantalizing prospect at 14, it would also be extremely difficult to pass up an offensive tackle of Cross’ caliber.

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