Betting odds suggest NY Jets CB Sauce Gardner is the best in the NFL
By Justin Fried
It's hard to oversell the rookie season that NY Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner put together in 2022. Gardner not only established himself as the premier defensive rookie in the NFL, but he very well may have been the league's best cornerback.
In just one season, Gardner proved to be one of the best defensive players in football. He became the first rookie cornerback since Ronnie Lott over 40 years ago to be named first-team All-Pro.
As should be expected, many are bullish on Gardner's potential entering the 2023 season. The Vegas oddsmakers are among those who expect big things from Gardner this year.
According to BetMGM's latest betting odds, per Pro Football Focus, Gardner is the odds-on favorite among cornerbacks to win Defensive Player of the Year in 2023.
Gardner's +1100 odds are significantly higher than the player in second place, Patrick Surtain II of the Denver Broncos (+4000). It's an even steeper drop to Jaycee Horn of the Carolina Panthers in third place with +8000 odds.
At least according to betting odds, Gardner is the best cornerback in football — and he's only played one season.
NY Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner was the best player at his position in 2022
The Vegas oddsmakers aren't the only ones who believe Gardner was the best cornerback in football last season. His first-team All-Pro selection suggests the same, and the numbers support that notion.
Gardner finished the 2022 season with Pro Football Focus' highest coverage grade among qualified cornerbacks. He also allowed fewer catches and yards than any other cornerback with at least 600 coverage snaps.
In fact, Gardner's 34 catches allowed in 17 games were six fewer than any other qualified cornerback. His 361 yards allowed were 56 yards fewer than any other qualified player at his position.
Gardner's 45.9 percent catch rate allowed was also the lowest percentage in football. He was targeted quite a bit, but he still allowed significantly fewer catches than his position-mates.
Want some more? Gardner also happened to have the highest average depth of target among qualified cornerbacks at 15.2. That means teams tested him down the field more than any other cornerback.
By essentially every metric, Gardner was the best cornerback in the NFL last season. His rookie season could legitimately be on par with some of the best cornerback seasons we've seen from any player in recent memory.
Now, expecting that level of production again in 2023 might be a little optimistic, especially given the volatile nature of the cornerback position. Still, the Vegas oddsmakers clearly back him more than any other cornerback to win Defensive Player of the Year.
Given how impressive Gardner was as a rookie, those seem like pretty fair odds.