“With the fourth pick in the 2022 NFL draft, the New York Jets select … Sauce Gardner, cornerback, University of Cincinnati.”
MetLife Stadium erupted into cheers after the chants of “Sauce” filed throughout the assembled fans. Rich Eisen had pounded the table for the lanky corner whom many named the best prospect in the draft. Robert Saleh demonstrated his elation when he shouted, “SAAAAAAAAUCE!” on the team phone call to inform Sauce Gardner that he was the team’s pick.
Now, the man the kids call “Sauce” is the favorite to take home the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. Before we dig into the Jets’ youngsters, claim the best BetMGM Bonus Code in the business ahead of the AFC and NFC championship games: a spectacular $1,000 First-Bet Bonus.
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Sauce Gardner: Favorite to Win NFL Defensive Player of the Year
It was impossible for Sauce to live up to the hype with which he entered the NFL, and yet he somehow managed to exceed it. Pro Bowler. first-team All-Pro. Already considered one of the top corners in the NFL—and some go all the way in saying that he is the best. It’s certainly fair to call him the best man-to-man cover cornerback in the league.
There is only one way for this storybook season to end: with the AP’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. Sauce was already voted both the overall Rookie of the Year and the Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America. It’s only a matter of time before he sweeps the trifecta of his dreams with the DROY.
Tariq Woolen was a major surprise for the Seahawks and certainly terrific value for his fifth-round draft status, but he was far more boom-or-bust and did not hold a candle to Sauce in consistency. Aidan Hutchinson looks like a potential star edge rusher in the making after a dominant end of the season, but again, he did not stay at that peak from start to finish like Sauce.
The oddsmakers agree that Sauce is the overwhelming favorite for the award. DraftKings has him at -1200, while Hutchinson is +800 and Woolen is +1400. That’s a far cry from the day after Sauce was drafted, when Hutchinson was the favorite at +450, followed by Kayvon Thibodeaux at +500, Sauce at +950, and Woolen at +11000.
- Sauce Gardner -1200
- Tariq Woolen +800
- Aidan Hutchinson +1400
- Kayvon Thibodeaux +6000
- Jaquan Brisker +10000
- Roger McCreary +10000
- Sam Williams +10000
While there was much debate among the fan base about who the Jets should and would take at No. 4, even the most ardent of Kayvon Thibodeaux or Ikem Ekwonu lovers can be nothing short of ecstatic about what the team got in their rookie corner. He should lock down the position for years to come.
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) January 9, 2023
Garrett Wilson: Second to Win NFL Offensive Player of the Year
There was equal debate about the direction the Jets should go at No. 10 overall. Many thought the team needed a receiver at that spot, while some preferred an edge rusher. The receivers came down mainly to Drake London vs. Garrett Wilson, while Jermaine Johnson was the edge rusher most expected to still be available at that spot.
From One Jets Drive, it seems apparent that the Jets were not in doubt. Even before the Falcons selected London at No. 8, Joe Douglas was focused on Wilson. The huge smile on Wilson’s face when his name was announced made New York instantly fall in love with him.
We at Jet X were excited by Wilson’s potential, but we did not think he would be an instant star in the league. We felt he might struggle to gain separation until he refined his route-running technique and that he would struggle to find targets due to the Jets’ other weapons.
Wilson was relatively quiet during training camp and preseason, overshadowed by Elijah Moore and No. 1 camp target Tyler Conklin. Although most fans thought Wilson would immediately assume the No. 3 receiver role and slot duties, from Wilson’s lack of snaps in the preseason, it was evident that he was yet to leapfrog Braxton Berrios for an 11-personnel starting role.
However, from Wilson’s first touch in the NFL, he made it clear to Mike LaFleur that he was going to force his way onto the field. His movement skills were impossible to ignore. By Week 2, following an eight-catch, 114-yard, two-touchdown performance that included the game-winning score in a thrilling comeback victory over the Browns, he had established himself as the Jets’ No. 1 receiver—if not in his position (he was still in the slot), then in his target share.
Although Wilson’s catches and yardage went quiet upon the return of Zach Wilson to the lineup, he broke out again with a six-catch, 115-yard performance in Week 8 against the Patriots. From that point on, he was the Jets’ unquestioned No. 1 receiver. The team swapped his role with Elijah Moore’s, making him the true X receiver. So much for struggling out of the gate.
By the end of the season, Wilson had 83 catches for 1,103 yards (the 11th-most by a rookie WR in NFL history) and 4 touchdowns. His numbers appear that much more impressive when you consider that the Jets’ three QBs combined for -59 DYAR (Defensive Yards Over Replacement), which means that their quarterbacking was below replacement level.
With all that, there is a lot more debate about the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Wilson was named a finalist along with Brock Purdy and Kenneth Walker III, much to the consternation of many, who believe that if any player with a six-game regular-season sample size should be on the ballot, it should have been Breece Hall (who was the favorite for the award through six weeks). Either way, Chris Olave was a clear snub on the finalist ballot, as his raw numbers were barely worse than Wilson’s, while his underlying metrics were better in several areas.
As of now, Walker is the betting favorite to win the OROY at -110, per SBD via DraftKings Sportsbook. But it’s hard to know where the voters will go. Wilson is at +150, while Purdy is at +500.
- Kenneth Walker III -110
- Garrett Wilson +150
- Brock Purdy +500
- Kenny Pickett +2000
- Christian Watson +2500
- Chris Olave +2500
We at Jet X feel that Wilson deserves the award simply because of the numbers he put up with such poor quarterback play. He was more consistent than Walker despite having a lesser supporting cast, especially down the stretch of the season.
Purdy does not deserve the award after having played only six games (as Dan Orlovsky was convinced of by Micah Parsons).
Garrett Wilson! 1k receiver with 3 qbs as a rookie!! Will be a all pro and pro-bowler very soon! https://t.co/nYNoEU3v9d
— Micah Parsons (@MicahhParsons11) January 10, 2023
So people were upset about me picking Purdy and brought some good fair arguments to convo than @MicahhParsons11 got on me about it and I started to think more and more about it and people’s arguments. I emailed this morning and changed back to Wilson as 1 for OROY
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) January 11, 2023
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