Danielle Parhizkaran / USA TODAY NETWORK
In April, the New York Jets drafted a cornerback from the Cincinnati Bearcats named Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner with the fourth pick in the first round. After a decade of disappointment, one could hardly hold it against any Jets fans for tempering expectations even for a prospect of Sauce’s caliber (especially given the general perception that first year corners struggle as they adjust to the NFL level).
However, it appears that no one thought to tell Sauce Gardner that his first year was supposed to feature some struggles.
NFL Cornerback Receiving Yards allowed per Target vs. Forced Incompletion Rate (data from @PFF):
– Sauce Gardner is ridiculous, DROY without a doubt
– Ravens secondary has struggled
– Darious Williams was an underrated offseason signing by the Jags#nflverse pic.twitter.com/Ahqs5jspfq— Pranav Rajaram (@_pranavrajaram) January 2, 2023
In the above chart, players who are located in the top left are those who allow low yards per target (more left = better play) and high forced incompletion rates (more vertical = better play). As you may expect, having desirable scores in both of these statistics suggest strong play from a cornerback. This makes it notable that one man stands alone in the top-left corner within this chart: Sauce Gardner.
While the last decade featured little in terms of talent from the New York Jets, Sauce Gardner seems well on his way to reversing that trend. For those looking for reasons for optimism from a team that was recently eliminated from the playoff race, that conversation has to feature Sauce.
But what do you think? Has Sauce been THIS good? And has he lived up to your expectations?