Breaking down Sauce Gardner’s statistical profile
The New York Jets selected Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner with the fourth overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, making him the highest-drafted defensive back in franchise history. Of course, there are high expectations that come with such a distinction.
Does Gardner have the elite skills to live up to those lofty standards?
Let’s dig into the 21-year-old cornerback’s statistical profile to learn about where he is as a player. What does he do well and where can he improve?
Build and athletic testing
Here’s a look at some of Gardner’s measurables and how they stack up among cornerbacks all-time:
- Height: 6′ 2¾” (96th percentile)
- Weight: 190 pounds (38th percentile)
- Wingspan: 79⅜” (95th percentile)
- Arm length: 33½” (97th percentile)
- Hand size: 9⅝” (84th percentile)
Standing at nearly 6-foot-3 with a wingspan just under 80 inches, Gardner is armed with incredible length for the position.
The only drill Gardner participated in at the NFL Scouting Combine was the 40-yard dash. That was all Gardner needed to make an impression. He lit up the 40 with a time of 4.41 seconds (79th percentile).
According to Pro Football Reference’s Combine database, that is the fastest 40 time ever posted at the Combine by a cornerback with Gardner’s height and length (at least 6-foot-2, wingspan of 79+ inches, and arm length of 33.5+ inches).
Gardner posted a 10-yard split time of 1.54 seconds, which ranked at the 57th percentile. It’s still strong considering his size, but, interestingly, it’s a sizable dip from the ranking of his 40 time.
The 10-yard split is the time that it takes the player to clear the first 10 yards of the 40-yard dash. Gardner’s large disparity between the impressiveness of his 40 time and his 10-yard split tells us that he has better long speed (his top speed once he gets into his full stride) than immediate acceleration. He was better at the final 30 yards of the run than the first 10.
No matter how you want to slice it, the bottom line is that Gardner has a rare blend of size, length, and speed.
Usage in Cincinnati’s defense
Before getting into Gardner’s astonishingly good production, it’s important to take a look at how he was used in Cincinnati’s defense. How much man and zone coverage did the Bearcats ask Gardner to play?
Gardner’s usage numbers are intriguing. They showcase that he is a perfect fit for Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich’s Jets defense.