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NFL Analytics Expert Explains Why Jets Should Pick Ahmad Gardner Fourth Overall

Cynthia Frelund of NFL Network has the Jets taking Cincinnati CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner fourth overall in her first mock draft of the offseason.
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Will the Jets add another promising young cornerback in the 2022 NFL draft this spring?

We've seen the likes of LSU's Derek Stingley Jr. and Washington's Trent McDuffie heading to New York in other mock drafts this offseason. In this mock, however, the Jets go a different direction and add some Sauce to their secondary.

NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund has Gang Green picking Cincinnati's Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner fourth overall in the first round.

Frelund's mock draft is designed to help teams jump forward into win-now mode. Or as Frelund put it, "team-prospect pairings are based on optimizing for wins in the upcoming season." 

So, even for a team like the Jets that are likely a few years away from contention, Frelund believes Gardner would give them the best chance to accelerate their rebuild (over other available prospects like safety Kyle Hamilton or tackle Ikem Ekwonu).

With that said, here's Frelund's analysis on why Gardner is the right selection for the Jets.

4. New York Jets: Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

My colleague Daniel Jeremiah likens Gardner to Antonio Cromartie, who became a four-time Pro Bowler after coming out of FSU, and the comp holds well. Change-of-direction speeds for the two corners were in the 90th percentile, while DB body control (factors in efficient change of direction when moving toward the ball) ranked in the top 89th. Gardner’s pursuit speed (speed to tackle) was also a strength (top 85th percentile).

For those wondering, Frelund has Stingley Jr. going to the Vikings at No. 12 and McDuffie landing in Buffalo at No. 25. Florida's Kaiir Elam (Buccaneers) and Washington's Kyler Gordon (Chiefs) are the only other cornerbacks coming off the board in the first round in this mock. 

After adding a defensive back, Frelund has New York transitioning to the offensive line with their second first-rounder:

10. New York Jets (Via Seahawks): Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

I realize that Mekhi Becton, the 2020 first-rounder who missed all but one game in 2021 with a knee injury, should be healthy and return to the lineup to try to take the left tackle spot back from George Fant. I also realize that Cross played on the left side at Mississippi State, and that it's not always easy to transition to the right. However, Becton and Fant both have some experience playing on the right, and this O-line needs help. My numbers show that Cross is evolving and has the opportunity to develop into a dominant pass protector. PFF's notes agree, showing that he made a major improvement in pressures allowed from 2020 (44 on 574 pass-protection snaps) to 2021 (16 on 719 snaps). 

Cross comes off the board after both Alabama's Evan Neal (No. 1 overall to Jaguars) and NC State's Ekwonu (No. 5 overall to Giants).


Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton
LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.
Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal blocking
Michigan pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson on defensive line
Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux celebrates stop
Purdue edge rusher George Karlaftis
NC State tackle Ikem Ekwonu blocking

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