It’s no secret that the Philadelphia Eagles need a partner in crime for Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay. There are a ton of intriguing options at that position of need in the 2022 NFL draft. Problem is, the Eagles will likely need to trade up in the first round to get an elite-level talent.
The top cornerbacks heading into Thursday night include Derek Stingley, Ahmad Gardner, and Trent McDuffie. The Eagles stand a reasonable shot at getting McDuffie if they stay put at No. 15. Stingley or Gardner? Well, that is going to require some savvy maneuvering from general manager Howie Roseman.
It’s something he’ll probably be pondering hard, especially after Gardner revealed how much he admires Slay. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder name-dropped Slay as one of the three best corners in the NFL.
Gardner told The Game Day: “Jalen Ramsey. Darius Slay. I don’t the know the third, maybe it’s between Trevon Diggs and J.C. Jackson.” (Editor’s note: Slay re-tweeted the below clip from his Twitter account).
Gardner’s stock has taken a meteoric rise up the draft board in recent weeks. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. valued him as his top cornerback and mocked him No. 4 overall to the New York Jets. Ditto for CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards and NFL Media’s Peter Schrager.
The latest Eagles news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Eagles newsletter here!
Gardner Doesn’t Plan on Giving TDs Up
Everyone seems in agreement that Gardner has the ability to completely shut down “one side of the field” in an NFL secondary. He didn’t allow a single touchdown in 33 games last season at Cincinnati.
“I don’t have plans on giving one up,” Gardner said referring to touchdowns, via the New York Post. “I love being left on an island. I don’t have to worry about anybody else but my man. I feel like I can eliminate the best receiver on the field.”
Nicknamed “Sauce”, he finished with three interceptions as a senior while earning first-team All-American honors and AAC Defensive Player of the Year. Gardner received his nickname — originally “A1 Sauce Sweet Feet Gardner” — from a youth coach when he was 6 years old. Obviously, it stuck and he takes pride in it.
“When your nickname is Sauce, you simply have to be a good football player — it’s a universal obligation,” wrote Pro Football Network’s Ian Cummings. “Gardner’s success is a culmination of rare physical talent, mental toughness, and acuity.
“At cornerback, you can’t just be athletic or long. You have to be competitive, and you have to have an alpha mentality. As his 2022 NFL Draft scouting report shows, Gardner has the tools to be that alpha on the boundary.”
Confident CB1 Already Believes He’s the Best
Gardner doesn’t lack confidence or a strong belief in himself. He firmly trusts in his abilities, including an unmatched work ethic that makes him the unquestioned top cornerback in this year’s draft class. The Detroit native doesn’t want to hear about anyone else claiming to be better than him.
“I feel like I could dominate. I could dominate whoever in front of me,” Gardner said prior to the draft, via Chancellor Johnson. “I study the game a lot, I prepare for the game a lot which is why I am in the position that I am now. I don’t even feel like anybody is close to me when it comes to cornerback.”
“I’m always available. I’m always playing. You don’t got to worry about none of that extra stuff. I’m a strong guy, I just keep going. I don’t worry that way with other guys who are in the talk of being CB1 this and that, but their work ethic isn’t better than mine, nothing better that they do better than I do.”