The NY Jets had high hopes for cornerback Sauce Gardner when they selected him fourth overall in this year's draft, but despite his pedigree, the team remains steadfast in their belief that he must earn a starting job this summer.
Head coach Robert Saleh spoke to the media following Wednesday's practice and spoke about the competition the Jets will have at the cornerback position in training camp.
Saleh indicated that while the Jets love Gardner, he isn't just going to be handed a starting role because of where he was drafted. And as Saleh indicated, the incumbent Bryce Hall is "doing everything he can" to hold on to his starting job.
With Gardner, Hall, and D.J. Reed, the Jets have an incredibly promising trio of cornerbacks and one of the deepest secondaries they've had in quite some time.
Gardner is expected to be the star of the unit before long, but that isn't a given. The Jets want to see him earn it.
The NY Jets are taking things slow with Sauce Gardner
Gardner was a three-year starter at Cincinnati earning Freshman All-American honors in his first collegiate season before following that up with consecutive first-team All-American selections, including a unanimous selection in 2021.
He was voted first-team All-AAC in all three years at Cincinnati, allowed just one red-zone catch in his entire career, and never allowed a single touchdown during his time in college.
In terms of dominant college tape, you aren't going to find much better than what Gardner put on film over the last three years. His dominance allowed him to become one of the better cornerback prospects the NFL has seen in some time.
The Jets are hoping that Gardner could become the team's best cornerback since the days of Darrelle Revis. He should be given every opportunity to live up to that hype, but he'll have to earn his snaps.
Sauce Gardner may be the highest-drafted cornerback in Jets history and the highest-drafted player in Cincinnati history, but he's just a face in a crowded cornerback room until proven otherwise.
The Jets want him to earn his stripes. And if he's the player they believe he is, he should have no problem doing so in short order.