WHO IS CB1?
By: Skyler Meikrantz
Talent evaluators across the country have been quick to declare Derek Stingley Jr. as the top corner in the 2022 NFL Draft, touting him as a “generational talent”. Another name needs to be considered for this position, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. Breaking down the film; coverage, speed, versatility, and just being a down-right lock-down corner; this is a much closer race then what it seems.
When it comes to coverage Gardner already starts to separate himself from Stingley, not as much as separation as DeVonta Smith had against him during his Heisman run though. It takes a lot for receivers to win routes against either of these two. Stingley and Gardner are speedy, lengthy corners who know how to use their hands to stay with receivers. However, Gardner really pops off the film the way he sticks to receivers like “stick-em” to a football. Stingley covers well but it’s not that “white on rice” coverage and can get taken for a ride by guys with elite speed like the ones from down in Alabama.
Speaking of Alabama, Stingley did go up against the legendary “Tua Era”(Tua Tagovailoa) squad so he’s got the chops right? Well in this match up, or any Bama match up, is where Stingley really had his weaknesses shown. Stingley’s versatility as a corner is left wanting, he’s a great boundary guy but can’t seem to figure out the slot. Sure locking up the boundary is great, but you know what’s better? Having a guy that can shadow the opponents’ number 1 guy across the whole field like Gardner. The struggle is real for Stingley in the slot, this is where DeVonta Smith really cooked him up. Gardner is a guy you can fully trust to wipe away the top guy on the other side.
Sauce is in the truest sense of the term “lock-down corner”. Doesn’t matter who, what, when, where, it’s locked up like a Brinks truck. After watching Gardner play with the speed, football IQ, and fluidity he has versus what Stingley has put on film, which is limited for 2021 due to Stingley ending his season early with a foot injury/surgery (another big concern), I’d say it’s hard to not put Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner as CB1 in the 2022 NFL Draft.