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Gardner could be the first cornerback to be selected in this draft because of his All-Pro upside

Gardner could be the first cornerback to be selected in this draft because of his All-Pro upside

Teams looking to add some flavor to their secondary through the 2022 NFL Draft would no doubt love to take cornerback Ahmad Gardner. Also known as "Sauce," Gardner was arguably the top corner in all of college football last season, and it's those same traits and abilities that give him All-Pro upside. That's also why he could be the first corner to come off the board and potentially somewhere in the first 10 picks.

(This profile is one of 230 featured in the Athlon Sports 2022 NFL Draft Guide. With in-depth scouting reports on the top prospects, position rankings, and more, no source will have you better prepared for draft day. Purchase a copy online today, the digital edition for instant access, or look for it on newsstands everywhere.)

Ahmad Gardner Draft Profile

College: Cincinnati
Class: Jr.
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 190

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Strong Points

Gardner is a long, fast and fluid cover artist who grabbed a starting role as a true freshman and elevated his level of play over three seasons. He has experience playing a variety of techniques, though he’s at his best — and his most comfortable — facing the action in off-man coverage. He made big strides cleaning up his footwork the past two seasons, and his ability to keep an eye on the backfield and his click-and-close quickness for his size are outstanding. He’s wiry strong and has the ability to line up in press coverage, disrupting receivers at the line of scrimmage with plenty of recovery speed if necessary. He has excellent ball skills and is extremely competitive and confident at the catch point, with the instincts to break on the ball and a willingness to bait throws. He’s a willing tackler on the perimeter. He didn’t allow a single touchdown in three seasons at Cincinnati, and he more than held his own against Alabama in a playoff game last season; the Tide chose not to test his side of the field often.

Weak Points

There is still a little bit to be cleaned up as far as getting too handsy downfield, and NFL teams will surely look to use Gardner’s aggressiveness when peering into the backfield against him early in his career.

Summary

Gardner’s whole body of work is more consistent than Derek Stingley Jr.’s, and, unlike Stingley, his medicals won’t be an issue. There is a case to be made for Gardner being the first cornerback off the board, and he has the same All-Pro upside.

Final Grade: 1st Round

YearGTTFL-YDSSCKS-YDSQBHFF-FRINT-YDSPBU

2019

14

31

0.0-0

0.0-0

0

0-0

3-78

8

2020

9

9

0.5-5

0.5-5

0

0-0

3-18

6

2021

14

40

4.5-22

3.0-20

1

1-0

3-7

4

Career

37

80

5.0-27

3.5-25

1

1-0

9-103

18

Athlon Sports 2022 NFL Draft Guide

The most complete guide to the 2022 NFL Draft is now available at newsstands everywhere or for purchase online!