Grading a franchise-altering first round for the NY Jets

NY Jets, Sauce Gardner
NY Jets, Sauce Gardner / David Becker/GettyImages
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The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft is in the books. While each fan base is likely excited by the potential of their newest additions, faithful fans of the NY Jets have good reason to feel like real winners.

The Jets entered the draft with two premium picks in the top 10. They finished the first round with even more prime capital. How did the franchise fare with each selection? Here are letter grades for each first-round pick.

1. Sauce Gardner, CB, NY Jets (4th overall)

The Jets nailed this pick by taking the best player on the board. I had written before that Travon Walker was the best-case scenario for the club. However, when the Jaguars took the Georgia star off the board with the first overall pick, the Jets were wise to pivot to Sauce Gardner.

The Houston Texans made the surprise play by also targeting a cornerback when they grabbed Derek Stingley Jr. out of LSU. While both players were highly-touted prospects, Gardner was the consensus top player at the position. Houston's gamble seems to have paid dividends for the Jets (at least on paper).

Gardner's elite skill set has drawn comparisons to legendary cornerback Richard Sherman. His press-man skills were the best in the draft. This skill combined with an uncommon combination of athleticism, speed, agility, fluidity, and ball skills makes him the perfect package to become a top-tier cornerback.

The Jets have not enjoyed a top cornerback since Darrelle Revis brought Revis island to New York. Gardner has the potential to become this type of playmaker.

He should be a perfect fit in Robert Saleh's defensive scheme. His ability to control half of the field will make an immediate difference in the Jets' attempt to rebuild a once-great defense.

The Jets landed an elite player at a position of need. Gardner has a real chance to be the best player in this draft class. It's an absolute home run pick.

Grade: A