The Scouting Combine is well underway, meaning the 2022 NFL Draft is fast approaching. The upcoming crop of prospects features plenty of talent across the board. Some notable players have captivating personalities to match, including Cincinnati’s Sauce Gardner.
Gardner was a three-year starter for the Bearcats and quickly established himself as one of the premier cornerbacks in all of college football. Many NFL analysts project him as a first-round pick in the upcoming draft. So why do they call him “Sauce?” As the 21-year-old rising star explains, it’s just who he is.
Sauce Gardner reveals meaning behind his nickname
Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is easily one of the most confident players in the entire 2022 draft class. The Detroit, Michigan native saw his name climb big boards, thanks to a stellar individual season and Cincinnati’s improbable run to the College Football Playoff.
The Consensus All-American recently opened up on how he got his nickname and what it means to him.
According to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post, Gardner’s youth football coach gave him the nickname, “Sauce” because of the swagger he displayed. The name has stuck with the Cincinnati standout through his college days, and he’s fully embraced the purpose behind it.
“My personal meaning is a level of confidence,” said Gardner. “When I’m on and off the field, I make sure I’ve got the sauce. That just keeps me going. When I’m in my little calm mood, it’s just me being Ahmad. The Sauce is within me, so I’m always Sauce. I have to know when to flip the switch up and turn the switch off.”
Sauce Gardner has all the physical tools to be a great NFL cornerback. But beyond the skills, he also has the it-factor, which will set him apart from the rest of the field.
The Cincinnati star declares himself the best cornerback in the upcoming class
The 2022 NFL Draft class features several promising talents at the cornerback position. LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr., Washington’s Trent McDuffie, and Clemson’s Andrew Booth Jr. each have elite potential at the next level. However, Sauce Gardner believes he is the cream of the crop.
“I truly believe I’m the best cornerback,” said Gardner. “I just watch a lot of film, work on my technique, study receivers, work unrequired hours and do things when nobody is watching. That all translates when the lights come up.”
The American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year was the definition of a lockdown corner during his time at Cincinnati. Gardner allowed just 13 receptions for 117 yards in 2021. He played 1,059 coverage snaps in his career and allowed zero touchdowns. To not give up a single score in three seasons is unfathomable. Gardner wants the streak to continue into the NFL.
“I don’t have plans on giving one up,” he said. “But I’m not a guy to dwell on the last play. As a cornerback, you have to have short-term memory. That’s the only disorder I have: short-term memory loss.”
Gardner is an uber-confident player, and he expects greatness from himself. That’s why he loves going one-on-one with the opposing team’s best receiver.
“I love being left on an island,” the Bearcats star added. “I don’t have to worry about anybody else but my man, and I feel like I can eliminate the best receiver on the field.”
Pro Football Focus ranked Sauce Gardner as the No. 3 cornerback in the draft. The Detroit, Michigan native is out to prove otherwise.
Potential landing spots for Gardner in the 2022 NFL Draft
Scouting departments are in Indianapolis to get a closer look at the upcoming draft class at the NFL Combine. Sauce Gardner is one of the players who has looked impressive early on, as if his stock wasn’t already high enough. He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash, showing he has the speed to match up with some of the best the league has to offer.
So, where will Gardner land in the 2022 NFL Draft?
Several teams need to aggressively address their secondaries in the offseason, including the New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, and Minnesota Vikings.
CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson has the Cincinnati stud going to the Denver Broncos at No. 9 overall. NFL Network‘s Daniel Jeremiah has the New York Jets taking him Gardner at No. 10 overall. Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN projects him to land with the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8.
The consensus appears to be that “Sauce” will come off the board within the top half of the first round. There doesn’t appear to be much that could hurt his draft stock at this point.
Sauce Gardner is 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, with long arms. He has a slender frame, but he’s strong and backs down from no one. His confidence is through the roof, and he’s ready to put the NFL on notice. Whichever team lands him could be getting a franchise-altering talent.
All stats courtesy of Sports Reference