The 2022 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, and scouting departments are in the home stretch. As they compile their draft boards, they will be looking for what sets certain prospects apart from the rest. Supreme confidence is a trait that undoubtedly makes a player stand out, and Sauce Gardner is certainly not lacking in that department.
Gardner projects as a top-10 pick in April’s draft. However, he’s not satisfied with that label. The Cincinnati Bearcats standout wholeheartedly believes he can be the best player to come out of this class and eventually become one of the elite players in the NFL.
With a nickname like “Sauce,” he can’t help but possess the gift of gab.
Sauce Gardner declares he’s the best player in the 2022 NFL Draft
Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is one of the most talked-about players in the 2022 NFL Draft class. While he didn’t play for a Power 5 college football program, he always played with the confidence and swagger of one of the top players in the country.
Sauce Gardner, a former three-star prospect, enjoyed a highly productive collegiate career. The Detroit, Michigan native recorded 99 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 16 passes defended, nine interceptions, and 3.5 sacks in three seasons at Cincinnati.
The Bearcats star was a starter throughout his career, and he never gave up a single touchdown. That’s unheard of in today’s game. Even the best of the best have given up big plays at some point.
Gardner is oozing with confidence heading into the NFL draft. He recently took to Twitter to send a message to teams, scouts, and his fellow prospects.
I’m the best player in the draft.Sauce Gardner via Twitter
While that’s a pretty bold statement, it’s on-brand for the young corner. And it could be true.
The Cincinnati star has the tools to match his confidence
Trash-talking in sports is an art form. Even though anyone can do it, it only holds weight if the player can back it up. Sauce Gardner talks the talk but walks the walk as well.
Not only did he never get scored on in three seasons at Cincinnati, but he also allowed just 131 yards to opposing receivers in 14 games during the 2021 season. Pro Football Focus gave Gardner a grade of 87.1 for the year.
Gardner’s resume speaks for itself. He’s not all fluff and no substance. The Consensus All-American and American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year has the tools to be a special player in the NFL.
The Bearcats stud makes a strong case as the best cornerback in the 2022 NFL Draft.
At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Gardner is a tall corner with excellent length. There’s some room for him to bulk up a bit, but he’s already surprisingly strong. The 21-year-old possesses elite instincts and ball skills. He thrives in press-man coverage, but he’s also not afraid to get his hands dirty and help stop the run. Gardner also has the speed to match up with the league’s faster wideouts. He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine.
Sauce Gardner has the confidence teams want from their No. 1 corner, and he has the potential to be a true lockdown guy at the next level.
How high could Gardner go in the draft?
Several cornerback-needy teams could be in the market for one in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Considering how the NFL has shifted to a pass-heavy league, secondary depth is more important now than ever before.
Sauce Gardner is a top-10 talent. There’s no doubt about it. He also doesn’t have any red flags about him, so it’s difficult to see him falling outside of the first 10 picks. Multiple teams at the top lack true talent at the cornerback position and the secondary at large.
It wouldn’t be far-fetched to see Gardner go as high as No. 3 overall to the Houston Texans. Lovie Smith’s squad just needs talent across the board, and the Cincinnati product can bring the juice. The New York Jets could take a gamble with the fourth pick, especially since Robert Saleh is a defensive-minded coach. They also have the No. 10 overall pick.
The New York Giants also have two top-10 picks, giving them a perfect opportunity to upgrade their secondary with one of them. The Atlanta Falcons could be intriguing at No. 8 overall. Cornerback isn’t their most pressing need, but Gardner would give the franchise its most electric defensive back since Deion Sanders.
Whichever team lands Sauce Gardner is getting an elite talent with the swagger to change a franchise completely.
All stats courtesy of College Football Reference