With the No. 4 pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. As one of the best prospects at his position, it will be interesting to see if his success at Cincinnati last season can translate to the professional level.
To go along with having an incredibly cool nickname for a defensive back, Gardner is very skilled on the football field and proved that during Cincy’s 13-1 season a year ago. He’s drawn comparisons to that of a young Richard Sherman for his sheer competitiveness against opposing receivers and has the physical length to smother route runners in man-to-man coverage. Gardner might not be the most polished coming into the league as scouts initially desired, but his potential cannot be debated, especially if all goes according to plan in his first few NFL campaigns.
If you can’t see the stats table above, click here.
How can Ahmad Gardner impact the Jets in 2022?
The Jets had one of the league’s worst pass defenses last season. They gave up nearly 260 yards per game, the third-worst mark, and 28 touchdowns, putting them in the bottom third of that category. Gardner is an imposing, fast corner who kept his side of the field locked down during his playing days with the Bearcats. In fact, he didn’t allow a touchdown in more than 1,000 snaps of play. He was stingy in the yardage department too, allowing an average of just 6.6 yards per completion last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Obviously, he’s going to see tougher competition in the NFL, especially in an AFC East. He’ll step right into a starting role with the Jets. Even if it takes a season for him to build a full-fledged all-new version of Revis Island (Garden’s Grove?), he instantly makes the Jets pass defense a much better unit than it’s been in a long time.