The New York Jets selected Sauce Gardner at No. 4 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. The franchise knew they were getting a great player, but I’m not sure they knew Gardner would be a top cornerback in the NFL immediately. Welcome to Sauce Island.
Along with being a standout on defense, Sauce Gardner is a former wide receiver. Virtually his entire life, Gardner played both sides of the ball at a high level. After earning a three-star rating from ESPN, the Detroit, Michigan product committed to the Cincinnati Bearcats.
With the Bearcats, Gardner took very little time to break out. Seven games into his freshman season, Sauce seized the starting role at cornerback and never gave it back.
Gardner’s first year was highlighted by a pair of pick-sixes; one against UCF, the other against ECU. The 11 passes defended plus three interceptions help put Gardner on the map. The Cincinnati youngster allowed a 39.4 passer rating as a true freshman.
*Sauce did not allow a single touchdown in 2019.*
In 2020, Gardner took his game to another level. The lockdown cornerback intercepted three passes, tied for fourth in the AAC. The sophomore only gave up a first down a handful of times on the year.
*Sauce did not allow a single touchdown in 2020.*
His final season on campus was the program-defining 2021 campaign. Gardner again picked off three passes and scored a touchdown on a blocked field goal. He spearheaded the No. 1 ranked passing defense in the nation.
The Cincinnati team rode this success to a College Football Playoff appearance but ran into a buzzsaw when they squared off against Alabama in the opening round. The Bearcats lost 27-6, but they put up a valiant effort down to the last whistle.
Gardner held his own against fellow 2022 first-round NFL Draft pick Jameson Williams, mostly keeping the game-breaking receiver in check. The best play for Sauce came on a ball that Williams caught behind the LOS; Gardner corralled the shifty Williams in a way that few did in 2021.
*You guessed it: Sauce did not allow a single touchdown in 2021.*
The New York Jets selected Sauce Gardner with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. In less than a year, Gardner has already become one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
Gardner is a shutdown corner in man coverage, and his zone defense has improved exponentially since the beginning of the season. The superstar Jets cornerback has been charged with less than 200 yards through six games and even picked off a pass against the Miami Dolphins in week five.
Would you believe it if I said that Sauce is yet to allow a single touchdown in his NFL career? New York’s stout secondary is among the best in the league in 2022; Gardner is the catalyst behind the unit’s emergence.
One thing about Sauce that I have not mentioned yet is his once-in-a-lifetime charisma. The boisterous personality is supremely confident in his abilities, and he is never shy to let anyone know it. Sauce Gardner is a marketing dream. I mean, he already has a signature Buffalo Wild Wings sauce named after him! As a rookie!
This past Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, Gardner trolled the Cheesehead fandom by donning one of their classic headpieces. Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard did not seem to find it funny, but Sauce got the last laugh with his team winning 27-10.
Darrelle Revis was the last truly great cornerback on the New York Jets. Revis Island closed down for good in 2016, but the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, have a new attraction to attend every Sunday.
Sauce Island, established on April 28, 2022, is open and business is booming. Revis became a superstar from day one in the NFL; Sauce is following in these footsteps. Along with Breece Hall, the New York Jets could claim both Rookie of the Year awards.