No. 4: Sauce Gardner, CB, New York Jets
The New York Jets could be one of the most exciting young teams to watch during the 2022 season. They have multiple exciting rookies on both sides of the ball and other youthful talents across the roster. However, perhaps the most enticing player going into the upcoming season is Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner.
Joining Jordan Whitehead as additions to the Jets’ secondary, Gardner is a highly touted prospect. Standing 6-foot-2, the lengthy defensive back proved himself every step of the way during the draft process. Now, he enters a Jets defense that needed secondary help.
The rest of New York’s defense is better than they might get credit for. Quinnen Williams, C.J. Mosley and others provide upside in the box, but Gardner will elevate the unit as a whole. The only thing that could hurt his odds are part of the reason he’s on this list in the first place.
The AFC East is going to be a pass heavy division. Josh Allen has Stefon Diggs. Tua Tagovailoa has Tyreek Hill and Mac Jones has DeVante Parker. Gardner is going to be tasked with matching up with each of those top targets.
If Gardner can live up to expectations, then the rookie of the year conversation should be easy for him to make a case. If he struggles against those three, then it will be hard for him to even get a look for the award.