We're still quite a ways away from the 2022 NFL Draft, but the NY Jets sitting at pick No. 4 are going to have their pick of the litter for pretty much any position on the market.
This year's draft marks a unique opportunity for the Jets to have two picks in the top-10 thanks to the Seattle Seahawks, and cornerback is a position the team almost certainly is looking to upgrade.
It's still too early to make a definitive call, but with every passing day, it becomes clearer and clearer that cornerback Ahmad Gardner is the player the Jets need to seriously consider taking with their first pick rather than wait for their second at pick 10.
Gardner spent three seasons playing with the Cincinnati Bearcats where the team went 33-5 in regular-season games over that span — 2021 being a landmark season for the Bearcats where they squared off with Alabama in the Cotton Bowl.
The highly-touted cornerback was a leader of the Bearcats defense that held Bryce Young to under 200 passing yards for the first and only time of the 2021 season, and over the past two seasons, Gardner was targeted 98 times, allowed zero touchdowns, and intercepted six passes, per PFF.
The word on the street has long been that Gardner never let up a single touchdown during his entire stint at Cincinnati. That means over 100 targets across three years for The Sauce with no touchdowns allowed, nine interceptions, and 16 pass deflections.
Ahmad Gardner is a perfect draft target for the NY Jets
This is a 6-foot-3, 190-pound physical corner who not only exhibits shutdown ability playing primarily press man-to-man coverage, but also one who makes flashy plays in the process.
Much like someone like Trevon Diggs. But the difference being with The Sauce is that you are getting all the reward of Trevon Diggs without much of the risk in the dangerous style of play.
Diggs is long and lanky — much like Gardner — but he also plays the ball and not so much his man, which gets him in trouble on blown coverages from time to time as I'm sure any Cowboys fan would tell you.
With The Sauce, you're getting a big corner who plays both the ball and his man, locks down his receiver, and is able to shift the momentum in a game with a forced turnover.
I am but one man, but to me, Gardner is the best defensive back in this draft and possibly even the best overall player. Yes, that includes Kyle Hamilton.
He is a talent that, in all likelihood, is not going to be there at 10 when the Jets' second pick comes up — especially now that Seattle has entered the first-round chat after trading Russell Wilson. Before, Denver had pick No. 9, but also already had their young stud corner in Patrick Surtain II.
Now you've got the Giants (with two picks), Atlanta, Carolina, and Seattle who could all be in on Gardner if he is still on the board after 4. The risk of taking an edge rusher, offensive lineman, or wide receiver at 4 is too high to possibly miss out on such a game-changing player like Gardner.
If you are the Jets, you already have Carl Lawson (coming back) and John Franklin-Myers on your defensive line. You already have Mekhi Becton (coming back) and George Fant, who had a great year, on your offensive line. And the selection of receivers, offensive linemen, and pass rushers in this draft is so deep that at pick 10, you are guaranteed to land somebody really good.
You are not, however, guaranteed to land Ahmad Gardner at 10 if you choose to skip him at 4. The duo of Sauce and Bryce Hall in one secondary duo I'm here for.
I think The Sauce is the pick at 4. What say you?