Sauce Gardner is the best cornerback in the NFL. To those who have followed Gardner and the NY Jets closely over the last two seasons, that shouldn't be a controversial statement.
Gardner became the first rookie cornerback since Ronnie Lott, 41 years earlier, to be named first-team All-Pro following his sensational 2022 campaign a year ago. Despite some early talk of a "down year," Gardner has proved to be just as dominant in 2023.
The reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year ranks second behind only Jaylon Johnson of the Chicago Bears with a stellar 90.2 Pro Football Focus coverage grade. His 85.0 overall grade is third behind only Johnson and DaRon Bland of the Dallas Cowboys.
Gardner hasn't allowed more than two catches in a game since Week 5 and has given up one or fewer catches in five of his last six games. There isn't a cornerback in football playing at a higher level than Gardner right now.
NY Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner has been historically dominant
Since Week 3, Gardner has allowed just 18 catches for 150 yards and zero touchdowns. That's an average of 1.5 catches and 12.5 yards per game. Only Jalen Ramsey of the Miami Dolphins has allowed fewer catches over that timeframe, and he's done so in four fewer games.
It's inarguable at this point — no cornerback has been better than Gardner over the last two seasons. Cornerback is generally one of the most volatile positions in the NFL. It's rare to see the best player at the position repeat that level of success on a year-to-year basis.
So far, through the first two seasons of his career, Gardner has done just that. In fact, you could argue that no cornerback in NFL history (or at least in modern NFL history) has been this good to start a pro career.
Gardner is on track to earn his second consecutive first-team All-Pro nod to start his career. Darrelle Revis didn't do that. Neither did Champ Bailey, Deion Sanders, Richard Sherman, Rod Woodson, or any of the best players to ever play the position.
This isn't to say that Gardner will be better than those players, but he's already off to a better start. At this point, the conversation isn't even about how he compares to his current peers — it's how he compares to some of the best cornerbacks in NFL history.
Sauce Gardner is an elite lockdown cornerback and one of the best players in the entire league at just 23 years old. His greatness cannot be understated.