STACY ROST

Seahawks Draft Profiles: CBs ‘Sauce’ Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr.

Apr 8, 2022, 10:49 AM | Updated: 10:49 am
Seahawks Derek Stingley Jr....
Derek Stingley Jr. of the LSU Tigers reacts against the UCLA Bruins in the first quarter. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Jake and Stacy’s offseason Seahawks profiles continued this week, this time moving from free agency to the draft. The Seahawks are on the board at pick No. 9, the highest pick they’ve had since they selected tackle Russell Okung sixth overall in 2010.

Breaking down Seahawks’ draft options with ESPN’s Matt Miller

Quarterback isn’t the only question on this roster. And with this year’s class, it’s unlikely Seattle looks to address it with the No. 9 pick.

What positions might prove more enticing? Let’s start on the defensive side of the ball, where two of the best cornerback prospects in the draft could still be available.

Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Cincinnati

Height/Weight: 6 foot 3, 200 pounds
Class: Junior
Notables: Consensus All-American, Unanimous AAC Defensive Player of the Year (2021).

What you need to know: Gardner scored more touchdowns (2) than he allowed (0) in his three seasons with the Bearcats and finished his career with 99 tackles, 16 passes defended, nine interceptions, and 3.5 sacks. His 2021 season saw him allow just 131 yards in 14 games, per Pro Football Focus. His size and arm length (33.5 inches) make him a prototypical Seahawks cornerback – one they’ve been unable to tap into over the last several years. He’s been mocked as high as No. 4 overall to the Jets but could fall into Seattle’s lap just inside the top-10.

Jake Heaps’ breakdown: “He has incredible size, ideal size, at corner. He’s long, he’s lanky, and some people might even look at him and say he’s Richard Sherman-esque… I would even say he has better man-to-man coverage skills than Sherman had when he first came out. Sherman was amazing in zone coverage, and in man-to-man when he had to be. But Gardner can travel, he can play man-to-man coverage across the field as well, and that’s where I think he’s got that ability to be an elite cover corner in this league. When it comes to (personality), Gardner is the classic DB – he’s the guy talking about how he’s the best player in this draft, that his play is going to translate easily to the NFL. You love the confidence, you love the swagger. And it shows up on tape. He trusts his skillset; he trusts his athletic ability. He’s extremely confident and a fiery competitor and you can see it on the field.

“A con is he’s got a slender frame. He’ll need to bulk up a little bit to be able to survive and thrive in the run game and be the willing participant that Pete Carroll and the Seahawks will ask all of their DBs to be. So he’s a decent, but not elite tackler, and that has to change for Sauce Gardner, (but I) would (still) love to have him here in Seattle.”

Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

Height/weight: 6 foot 1, 195 pounds
Class: Junior
Notables: First-Team All-America (2020, 2019), First-Team All-SEC (2020, 2019)

What you need to know: The Tigers’ star corner had a stellar pro day earlier this week just months removed from surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury. Stingley posted a 38.5 vertical and posted an unofficial 4.37 40 (consider that he only began running again in early March). And while that recovery – and Stingley’s elite athleticism – is impressive, his missing time in both 2021 and 2020 will be the biggest question mark on an otherwise phenomenal resume.

Jake Heaps’ breakdown: “Over the last two seasons he’s only played 10 games. It’s not something you like to see or would feel comfortable with at nine overall. But why could he still go ahead of Gardner, who’s established and has been healthy? It’s because Stingley is that talented. He’s a guy who, when he steps on the field, has the ability to take over games. He’s a tough, edgy player who succeeds in every phase of the game: run game, pass game. Genuinely, there’s no real weakness with his coverage ability when it comes to both zone and man-to-man coverage. Especially when it comes to man-to-man coverage, where he’s very accomplished, and it’s the reason NFL teams love this guy so much: he can be sticky in pass coverage and cover any elite receiver who steps out onto the field.”

Heaps: Why Desmond Ridder is best fit of draft QBs for Seahawks

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