2. D.J. Reed, CB, NY Jets
It's hard to say if Gardner has been overshadowed by the play of his teammate, D.J. Reed, or if Reed has been overshadowed by Gardner's hype. Either way, Reed's stellar September shouldn't be overlooked.
For as good as Gardner has been, Reed has been even better. The former fifth-round pick has allowed just eight catches for 73 yards on 18 targets in four games this season.
Reed ranks fourth among qualified cornerbacks with a 44.4 completion percentage against when targeted, seventh in catches allowed, eighth in total yards allowed, and fifth in yards allowed after the catch.
He hasn't allowed a catch of more than 19 yards this season and hasn't been flagged a single time. Reed and Gardner are the only starting cornerback duo in the NFL not to be flagged through four weeks.
Reed's 78.9 Pro Football Focus coverage grade ranks sixth in the NFL through four weeks while his NFL passer rating when targeted (32.9) ranks fourth. By every metric, Reed is performing like a top-10 cornerback.
The only cornerbacks I'd comfortably rank ahead of him based on their 2022 play would probably be Jamel Dean, Darius Slay, Jalen Ramsey, and Jaycee Horn. Reed may very well be a top-five cornerback in the NFL at this very moment.
He doesn't hold the same national name value as players like Ramsey, Slay, or even Dean do, but statistically, he matches up with each and every one of them. If he keeps this up, a Pro Bowl invitation should be in his future.