A few years back, the Detroit Lions selected cornerback Jeff Okudah with their top selection, and the struggles of the player so far in his young career have made fans gun shy about the position early in 2022.
It hasn’t seemed that there would be a player worth taking in that slot at the position this year, but Cincinnati’s Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner could change all of that. Gardner could be a top 10 talent at the position in the draft, and as the evaluation period drags into its final stretch, it’s clear the player is seeing a ton of love across the league.
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The Lions have been revealed as a team that will be sitting down with Gardner in an interview. According to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, the Lions are having a top 30 meeting with Gardner prior to the draft playing out. That shows the team’s interest in the prospect could be very legitimate, as is there desire to get to know him a bit better.
Interestingly enough, the Lions are hardly alone in wanting to meet up with Gardner according to Wilson’s piece. He also has visits with New York Jets, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks planned in addition to a personal meeting with Houston head coach Lovie Smith and a previous meeting with New Orleans from his pro day.
Adding a bit of intrigue to the situation is the fact that Gardner is a Detroit native, which could only make his appeal for the team greater in the end, as well as Gardner’s possible interest in the Lions. Add it all up and it’s simply another name to remember this spring for Detroit’s needy defense.
Gardner’s College Stats & Highlights/h2>
While playing for Cincinnati, Gardner was a sound player that has only managed to rise up draft boards relative to where folks thought he would be selected. The reasoning was his great production. Gardner put up 99 tackles and 9 interceptions with the Bearcats in college and showed a knack for not only intercepting the ball, but being in the right place at the right time. He also had 16 passes defended and scored 2 touchdowns in his career. Here’s a look at some of the highlights:
Within the highlights, Gardner shows a good ability to pursue on defense and has all the hallmarks of a player who evolves into an elite cornerback once he gets into the next level with the right coaching.
Lions Could Use More Defensive Back Depth for 2022
Do the Lions need a cornerback early in this draft? That point is debatable, but the team could certainly use some depth at the position to help supplement their roster. At cornerback, the team witnessed production from a pair of undrafted free agents in AJ Parker and Jerry Jacobs. The play of both looks like it will be good enough to shore up the position into the future. In addition to those players, the Lions watched as Amani Oruwariye became a star this season, and the team still has Jeff Okudah on the roster, though he will be coming off injury in 2022. Additionally, the team will have a player in Ifeatu Melifonwu looking to take the next step from his rookie year. Add it all up and there is certainly reason to feel positive about the future of the group moving forward. The Lions could certainly draft or sign underrated players to fill in at both spots. In Mike Hughes, who they signed this week, they could have found another player to help for depth’s sake.
Obviously, there will be a lot of rumors that fly around, but it’s clear the team wants to at least consider the possibility of drafting Gardner, whether high in the draft or possibly in a scenario where the team is able to trade down in the first round.
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