The New York Jets No. 4 pick officially came in just after 8:30 p.m. on April 28, but it might have been revealed hours before.
During a teaser video on TikTok, owner Woody Johnson gave a subtle hint that the franchise was selecting Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner on Thursday night. It came at the very end of the first-ever NYJ draft room tour and some fans caught it on social media.
“Behind that wall that’s blocked… is the secret sauce behind there, and you’ll learn what happens with that later tonight,” Johnson told fans. It turns out, the secret sauce was Gardner, and the Jets now have a new shutdown cornerback in New York.
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Gardner: Jets Were ‘Always the Plan’
During an interview with the NFL Network just after his name was read, the new star defender said the words that every Jets supporter wanted to hear. Team reporter Eric Allen relayed the quote after Gardner was asked how he feels about being a Jet.
The cornerback responded: “It sounds great. That was the plan all along. I just wasn’t saying too much.”
He also had another reply that will make Gang Green faithful grin. “When I think about the Jets, I think about Darrelle Revis,” Gardner told the media via Brian Costello.
“Revis Island” was a cornerstone of the last Jets team that went to the playoffs and fans will hope that Sauce brings the same magic. At Cincinnati, Gardner “played over 1,100 coverage snaps” and “did not allow a single touchdown” according to NFL insider Ari Meirov.
Will there soon be a new island at MetLife Stadium? With superstar wide receivers like Stefon Diggs and Tyreek Hill in the division, that’s certainly the plan.
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Was Gardner the No. 1 CB in the Draft?
Many expected Gardner to be the first cornerback off the board leading up to draft week but recent rumors that the Houston Texans were high on LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. ended up being true. After the Tiger went third, the Bearcat followed.
Just after the pick, NFL analyst Chris Simms tweeted that Gardner was his “CB #1.”
“Not a lot of athletes on the planet with his size and quickness,” explained Simms. “Robert Saleh has found his Richard Sherman for his Seattle scheme, but with more potential.”
Sherman, but with more potential? Considering we are talking about a three-time All-Pro and Super Bowl champion, that’s high praise from Simms.
It will take a confident player to exceed all of the expectations Gardner will have in New York but fortunately, confidence is something the CB isn’t short on. “I’m the best player in the draft,” he tweeted on April 4 — since deleted.
This week in Las Vegas, he doubled down. “I feel like I’m the chosen one,” Gardner voiced after a charity event. “I feel like I’m the best in the draft. There’s no doubt about it. There’s no way I can be a bust. That shouldn’t even be an option.”