NFL Draft: Todd McShay Thinks Minnesota Vikings Take a Major Gamble at No. 12

There are a few inflection points in this year’s NFL draft. One of them is the Minnesota Vikings pick at No. 12. The can’t-miss prospects will be off the board by then. That means the Vikings have a tough decision to make. Do they take a safe, less talented player at No. 12? Or do they roll the dice on a prospect with lots of talent but lots of question marks as well? ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay thinks they’ll do the latter and pick LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.

The Minnesota Vikings need a cornerback

The biggest need that new Minnesota Vikings general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, and new head coach, Kevin O’Connell, have to address in the draft is at the cornerback position.

Right now, the team has three starting-level CBs on the roster. Patrick Peterson will likely be in the Hall of Fame someday, but at 32 when the season begins, he’s getting long in the tooth. Cameron Dantzler, a 2020 third-round pick, is a good corner but not a shutdown guy yet. The Vikings also signed former Green Bay Packers slot corner Chandon Sullivan this offseason.

The organization should have two more skilled corners on the roster, but recently, the position has been cursed for the franchise.

On the eve of the 2021 season, the Vikings cut 2020 first-round pick CB Jeff Gladney in the offseason after a grand jury in Texas indicted him for felony assault, according to NFL.com. After that, one of the 2021 off-season’s biggest free-agent signings, Brashaud Breeland, got the boot as well for verbally fighting with teammates and coaches, per NFL.com.

All this adds up to the fact that Minnesota has a significant talent deficiency at what is becoming one of the most critical positions in the pass-happy modern NFL.

That’s why cornerback is the top need for Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Todd McShay has the Vikings taking polarizing LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr. 

NFL draft guru Todd McShay recently released his newest two-round mock draft on ESPN.com. In it, he predicts the Minnesota Vikings will take LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr. at the No. 12 spot.

In this mock draft, the best corner available — Cincinnati’s Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner — is already off the board at No. 10 to the New York Jets. That leaves Stingley and Washington’s Trent McDuffie as the top available options at the position.

McShay explains why this pick is a major risk and why it might payoff for the Vikings:

Stingley is a tough evaluation. If Minnesota gets the 2019 version of his game, this is a steal at No. 12. But the injury-plagued uneven play we’ve seen over the past two years makes this pick risky. The Vikings still have a need at cornerback despite signing Patrick Peterson (who will turn 32 this summer), and there is no denying what Stingley is capable of doing on the field if he puts it all together. Stingley can wear a lot of different hats on defense, shows great instincts and has the ball skills and speed to lock down receivers. And the Vikings can let Peterson — a fellow LSU alum — help Stingley adjust to the pro game.

Todd McShay on the Minnesota Vikings pikcing Derek Stingley Jr. in the 2022 NFL Draft

This high-risk/high-reward pick will likely make Vikings fans nervous, especially with the recent history of Jeff Gladney and Brashaud Breeland on their minds.

So, the question now becomes, is Stingley worth it?

Is Derek Stingley Jr. worth a high first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft? 

Derek Stingley Jr. of the LSU Tigers warms up prior to a game in 2021. Stingley could be a pick of the Minnesota Vikings in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Derek Stingley Jr. | Sean Gardner/Getty Images

If you asked an NFL team this question after Derek Stingley Jr.’s freshman season in 2019, the answer would be a resounding yes. Pundits believed he was a top-three pick in the 2020 NFL Draft after LSU’s championship season, where the Louisiana-native started all 15 games, picked off six balls, and made the first-team All-America squad.

After that stellar season, Stingley only played 10 more games for the Bayou Bengals and never intercepted another pass.

Stingley missed games with various maladies over the past two seasons, including a Lisfranc injury that required surgery. That one cost him all but three games in 2021 and kept him out of the NFL Combine.

So, who is Derek Stingley Jr.?

Is he the 6-foot, 190-pound lockdown cover man that we saw in 2019, and his NFL.com scouting report compares to NFL superstars Stephon Gilmore, Patrick Peterson, Marshon Latimore, and Antonio Cromartie? Or is he a guy who will spend more time in the trainer’s room than on the field?

That is the evaluation the Minnesota Vikings need to make in the 2022 NFL Draft. Washington CB Trent McDuffie will also be available at No. 12, and he should be a solid to good pro cover man. However, he doesn’t have that superstar upside that Stingley does.

For some teams, McDuffie would be the obvious choice. Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry when first-round picks are involved. However, for the Vikings, a franchise mired in mediocrity for nearly its whole history, a home run swing might be what’s required in this year’s NFL draft, and Stingley is that swing.

All stats courtesy of Sports Reference

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