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The Defensive Rookie of the Year odds board is a confusing minefield to navigate. Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson is unsurprisingly the betting favorite at +500, with New York Giants DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (+550) and Jacksonville Jaguars DE Travon Walker (+800) right behind him.

But it’s hard to ignore No. 4 overall pick and New York Jets cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner at 10/1 odds, especially after his stellar preseason. He didn’t get targeted a single time in three preseason games, which is exactly why you should target him in the DROY betting market.

Jets rookie CB Sauce Gardner wasn’t targeted once in the preseason

Sauce Gardner became a bit of a folk hero at the University of Cincinnati because of his delicious nickname, but also because of his lockdown defense against opposing wide receivers.

In 1,059 total coverage snaps in college, Gardner didn’t allow a single touchdown. The star corner finished his Cincy career with 16 passes defended, nine interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns.

Gardner’s brilliant college career made him one of the top prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, and the Jets made him the first CB off the board by selecting him at No. 4 overall. That’s already looking like a wise decision.

According to a tweet from Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus, Gardner didn’t allow a catch in his first three preseason games with the Jets. In fact, he wasn’t targeted a single time in 24 coverage snaps, per a tweet from Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic.

It isn’t a huge sample size, but quarterbacks are already avoiding Gardner in the passing game. It wouldn’t be surprising if that trend continues into the regular season.

Target Sauce Gardner at 10/1 to win Defensive Rookie of the Year

Sauce Gardner looks on before a preseason game.
New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner warms up before a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles | Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Pass-rushers have won four of the last six DROY awards, so it makes sense that the first three names on the odds board are defensive ends. But I have my questions about all of them.

Hutchinson is primed to face double teams all year long with the lack of talent on Detroit’s defensive line. Thibodeaux is likely to miss at least one game due to a sprained MCL. I believe Walker can be a superstar in this league eventually, but I don’t think it’ll click for him in 2022.

Gardner has the ability to force multiple turnovers in his rookie year, and if QBs stay away from him for much of the season, his advanced stats will be off the charts.

Marshon Lattimore was the last defensive back to win DROY in 2017, and he finished that season with five interceptions, 18 passes defended, and a touchdown. I think Gardner can come close to replicating those numbers in 2022, and if he does, that 10/1 price has a great chance of cashing.

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