Steelers End Up With Derek Stingley Jr., Rashid Shaheed in ESPN 2022 Re-Draft

Derek Stingley

With NFL Draft fever just about getting into full swing at this time of the year, it also becomes the time of year to look back on past drafts and evaluate after a year where guys might fall given a full season of production. Today, ESPN released a full-two round re-draft of the 2022 NFL Draft that saw Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett and wide receiver George Pickens improve their draft position in the first round, while the Steelers ended up with former LSU and current Houston Texans cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and current New Orleans Saints wideout Rashid Shaheed.

With wide receiver George Pickens off the board at No. 14 to the Baltimore Ravens (thankfully this isn’t reality) and quarterback Kenny Pickett selected by the Saints at No. 16, the Steelers go cornerback and take Stingley Jr., who flashed immense talent when healthy (which was a rare occurrence) at LSU.

“In this scenario, both Pickett and receiver George Pickens are off the board, leaving the Steelers to address another position of need. With corner near the top of the their 2023 offseason wish list, drafting Stingley would check a major box in shoring up a spot that lacked a true lockdown player after the retirement of Joe Haden. Stingley finished the season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, but he didn’t allow a touchdown as the nearest defender in coverage and showed potential,” ESPN’s Brooke Pryor wrote about making the pick.

Stingley Jr.’s injury concerns carried over to the NFL, as he only played in nine games during his rookie season. He had 43 tackles, one interception and five pass deflections for Houston. Given that Stingley originally went third overall, he would’ve been good value at No. 20 based off his potential. At 6’1 and 195 pounds, Stingley is supremely athletic and his ball skills give him the potential to be a true No. 1 corner in the NFL. But it’s hard to do that when you can’t stay on the field, and Stingley missed a lot of time at LSU, only playing in three games during his final two years.

Given that those injury concerns have carried over to the NFL, it’s fair to question whether or not Stingley really would’ve been a good pick for Pittsburgh here with guys like current Ravens center Tyler Linderbaum and Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton still on the board. Still, given Stingley’s potential, it’s not all that bad of a pick in an exercise like this.

With the Steelers’ second-round selection at No. 52 overall, where they originally took Pickens, the team takes a player who wasn’t drafted in 2022 in wide receiver Rashid Shaheed, who flashed some talent as an undrafted free agent with the Saints.

“The Steelers have a history of successfully drafting wide receivers in the second round, but Pickens was long gone in this scenario. It was a toss-up between the undrafted Shaheed and fourth-rounder Romeo Doubs, but Shaheed edged out Doubs because of his late-season consistency and fleet-footed versatility — a big plus in the Steelers’ offense. While Doubs missed more than a month because of an ankle injury and was minimized in his return (thanks to the emergence of Christian Watson), Shaheed became a bigger factor as the season went on, finishing with two touchdowns and 488 receiving yards,” Pryor wrote.

Shaheed played his college football at FCS Weber State, where he was their all-time leader in kick return average at 29.1 yards per return and finished his career with 5,478 all-purpose yards, good enough for third in school history. His return ability would’ve been welcome in Pittsburgh as they struggled to get much production out of both wide receiver Gunner Olszewski and wide receiver Steven Sims, save for Sims’ 86-yard kick return against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6. Shaheed averaged 9.7 yards per punt return on his 20 returns, and he also returned 14 kicks for 320 yards. But it was a receiver where he made the most noise, especially late in the season.

Over his final five games, Shaheed had 20 catches for 324 yards and a touchdown, and on the year he finished with 28 catches for 488 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored a 44-yard rushing touchdown on his first offensive touch.

While that’s solid production, I’m not sure it’s second-round pick-level production. Doubs is still on the board, and while Pryor penalized him for his injury unlike Stingley, he still had better production than Shaheed despite missing a month of the season. Doubs had 42 receptions for 425 yards and three touchdowns during his rookie season while playing in 13 games. He was also the better prospect coming out of Nevada, so I’m not really too keen on the idea of passing him up, even in this scenario.

Other options were available too, including guard Cole Strange who started all 17 games for the New England Patriots as a rookie and did a really good job against Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward in Week 2. The selection of Shaheed feels a lot like recency bias given what he was able to due towards the end of the season, while guys like Strange and Doubs flashed their talent more consistently over the course of the season. If Doubs’ ankle injury was really the justification for taking Shaheed over him, it makes zero sense to spend a first-round pick on Stingley who has played 13 games of football over the last three seasons, no matter how high his ceiling may be.

Ultimately, none of this matters because the Steelers ended up with Pickett and Pickens, and the two of them should help form the core of the offense for years to come. You can certainly take them getting drafted higher in this exercise as a sign the Steelers hit on those two picks, and after one year that does seem to be the case. But again, it’s just been one year, and hopefully, the two of them can continue to play at a high level going forward and really solidify Pittsburgh’s faith in taking them in the first two rounds in 2022.

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