2022 NFL Draft Profile: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner

AJ Torres

The 2022 NFL Draft is loaded with top end cornerback talent, and Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is one of them. Before the 2021-2022 season Gardner was looked at as a top 5 cornerback on a lot of list, but now he’s looked at amongst the top 3.

Background

  • DOB: August 31, 2000
  • Position: Cornerback
  • School: Cincinnati
  • Size: 6’3 200lbs
  • Class: Junior
  • Career Stats: 99 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 9 Ints, 3.5 sacks, 16 PDs
  • 3 star recruit out of Detroit, Michigan

Accolades

  • 3x First Team All-AAC (2019, 2020, 2021)
  • 2019 Football Writers Association of America-Shaun Alexander Freshman All-America Team
  • 2019 AAC All-Academic Team.
  • 2020 FWAA All-American
  • 2021 AAC Defensive Player Of The Year
  • 2021 Consensus All American

Games Watched: ECU (2019), SMU (2020), Memphis (2020), USF (2021)

  • Best Game: SMU (2020)
  • Worst Game: Memphis (2020)

Strengths

Ahmad Gardner uses his long 6’3 frame to his advantage. Does a great job of extending his arms at the point of contact in press man coverages as well as to shed off blockers. Where it shows up the most is at the catch point. Uses his length well to eliminate the catch radius of his opponent. His versatility of being able to play in zone and man techniques will bode will for him in the NFL. Possesses elite ball skills. Whether it is with his back turned to the quarterback or jumping a route, he’s shown consistent ability to make a play on the ball. Can be an aggressive tackler if need be. He isn’t afraid to pull the trigger back and unload on the ball carrier. The most important trait “Sauce” Gardner possesses is his IQ. His understanding of coverage packages, and the ability to read and react to his man’s routes are above average. There’s a reason he hasn’t allowed a touchdown in his 3 years as a Bearcat.

Weaknesses

Trying to find glaring weaknesses for Gardner feels a lot more like nitpicking. He does tend to get grabby in man coverages, but he has seemed to improve in that area each year at Cincinnati. Similar to Jaycee Horn out of the 2021 NFL Draft, he needs to learn to trust his athleticism in man coverages. At times has been inconsistent tackling. Has shown to be a drag down type of tackler. Doesn’t possess track like long speed. You’d like to see him play a tad lower at times, especially when changing directions. All things that can be developed and improved at the next level.

Overall

Come April, we will be talking about Ahmad Gardner as one of the top three cornerbacks taking off the board. Gardner is a lock down cornerback and they are extremely rare to come by now a days. Not only is he a talented prospect, he is one of the more hard working and determined players you will come around. He plays with that dawg like mentality you want from your CB1, and has the grit and talent to back up his swag. That alpha male teams strive to find. If Gardner can run in the low to mid 4.4’s and shows more hip mobility at the combine, I think you could be talking about him being the first corner taken off the board.

Pro Comparison: Richard Sherman

Pick Projection: Early to Mid teens

Photo Creds: The Athletic

 

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