The NY Jets understandably had high expectations for Sauce Gardner when they drafted him fourth overall in this year's NFL Draft. But even they probably didn't expect him to perform as well as he has to this point.
Gardner was relatively quiet this preseason and didn't seem to pop up much during games. There's a good reason for that too.
The rookie cornerback played a total of 24 coverage snaps this preseason and wasn't targeted a single time. Not only did he not allow a catch, but opposing quarterbacks didn't even try to throw his way.
Gardner was the only cornerback in the NFL to play at least 20 coverage snaps this preseason and not be targeted once. It literally doesn't get any better than that.
NY Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner was perfect in the preseason
Selected fourth overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, Gardner put together an illustrious career at Cincinnati that saw him named the AAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 as well as voted a Consensus All-American that season.
He earned first-team All-AAC honors in each of his three seasons at Cincinnati, but perhaps his most impressive feat was that he didn't allow a single touchdown during his three years in college.
On top of that, he allowed just one red-zone catch in his college career as well. It's hard to remember a cornerback entering the NFL in recent memory with that kind of a stat line.
With that in mind, perhaps the Jets shouldn't be too surprised by Gardner's level of preseason dominance. Still, at just 21 years old, it's nothing short of remarkable that he's hit the ground running in the way that he has.
The Jets believe that Gardner has the potential to be one of the NFL's best cornerbacks in a very short period of time. It wouldn't be a stretch to say he can be the team's best cornerback since prime Darrelle Revis.
We still have a long way to go before any claims like that can be made, but Sauce Gardner has undoubtedly made an outstanding first impression.