The Houston Texans had the third overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and were eying defensive players at the position. They eventually settled on LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., making him the first cornerback off the board during the draft. It was a move that raised some eyebrows. Stingley was highly touted but he wasn't the top corner in the eyes of many, with that being Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner.
Gardner was a cornerback out of Cincinnati and was someone that had infinite amounts of potential. So much so that many experts had him going off the board first among all corners and safeties. instead, the Texans took Stingley, a move that many thought was the right position but the wrong player.
A belief that has seemingly held up after a year and a half of contests. So far in 2023, Stingley has been average at best, which is admittedly a lot better than his truly poor outing as a rookie in 2022. Yet, in 2023, and 2022, Gardner has been every bit the of the elite player many had expected him to be.
He's having back to back seasons of 80+ grades by PFF, and he's seen by many to be one of, if not best cornerback in the league. Stingley, on the other hand, isn't even the best corner on his team this year, and that's saying something as the Texans corners aren't exactly world beaters.
We expect Stingley to get better but even if he does, it's unlikely he'll ever be as good as Gardner, and that's saying something considering Stingley was believed to be the better prospect of the two. Instead, Stingley will likely go his entire career hearing this very same thing said about him time and time again.
He can always get better and be as good as Gardner but it seems unlikely that he'll ever surpass him.