How Ahmad Gardner and other rookies can make a difference for the New York Jets starting Day 1 – New York Jets blog

FLORHAM PARK N.J. Ahmad “Sauce” GardnerHe introduced himself to college-level football on Friday, October 2019. His 16-yard interception return changed everything.

Gardner, a freshman backup, was 18th-ranked in Central Florida and played “off” coverage at left cornerback. This baited quarterback Dillon Gabriel into making a tackle. Gardner broke quickly, grabbed his 33 1/2-inch arms and nailed his first interception. He rolled into the end zone for the touchdown. The Bearcats won the game, establishing a 29-game streak as a ranked team.

Two years later, the New York JetsGardner's physical and mental abilities were marvelled at as we viewed the play and other similar plays. He was the fourth highest-drafted cornerback (fourth overall) in team history. Robert Saleh, coach, saw images that brought back memories from a corner he had coached. Seattle Seahawks San Francisco 49ersFormer All Pro Richard Sherman.

“You can see that he’s an outside-the-box thinker, he’s got great vision of the field, he’s a tremendous communicator (and he) can diagnose a play before it ever snaps,” Saleh said of Gardner. “I’m not comparing, but just being with Sherm, I mean, the guy knew the play as soon as they broke the huddle. … He’s playing a different game. So Sauce's mental makeup is extraordinary and allows him to see the game in a different way than most players.

Gardner is the head of a seven-man draft group that is being called one of the best in the NFL. It will take time to see, but Gardner is a wide receiver. Garrett Wilson (drafted 10th), defensive end Jermaine Johnson II(26th) and running in the reverse Breece Hall(36th), The Jets have four players that should immediately be major contributors.

Let's take a closer look at their projected roles (statistics via ESPN Stats & Information).


He will begin on the outside, barring injury. D.J. ReedTheir $11 million-a year acquisition in free agency.

A cornerback who is drafted this high must play on the field. Gardner, Jeff Okudah (Detroit Lions(2020) Denzel Ward (Cleveland BrownsThe top four corners of the past 24 years are 2018 and 2018. This is a good thing. Bryce Hall Brandin EcholsThese players, who had only two interceptions last season combined, are now seeking backup roles.

Gardner's big question is how he will transition from being a man-to a zone. In 2021, Gardner played 344 snaps for Cincinnati in press coverage (man-to man) and the majority in the FBS. Although the Jets don't have a true zone team they play it a lot on first and second downs (63 percent, 14th). They are much less efficient on third down (28%, 30,th).

Saleh says that football becomes a one on one game when it is third down. Saleh asks his players to win their respective matchups. With the AFC North on schedule, it will be crucial to tackle. They are run-oriented and like to attack the perimeter.

Gardner declared that “I love playing zone,” during last weekend's rookie camp. It feels easier. It's something I enjoy a lot. I enjoy knowing what my friends are doing when it is time to get in the zone. This helps me know where and when I should be. I also think I am a great zone player.”

Gardner should have no problems making the adjustment if Saleh is right about his field vision and anticipating.


Wilson's exclusion would be a major upset Elijah Moore Corey DavisIn the first three. Mike LaFleur, the offensive coordinator, isn't afraid to place rookies in prominent positions, as he demonstrated last year with Moore.

Wilson's snaps will most likely be taken where Wilson is located. He played both inside and out at Ohio State. He ran 87% on the outside during 2021. In 2020, 73% of his routes were run in the slot. They have two versatile pieces of chess in Wilson and Moore.

Slot receiver Jamison CrowderThe position was not resigned so it's vacant. LaFleur may choose to go with the committee approach by rotating Wilson, Moore, or both Braxton BerriosWilson can also play on the outside, but Wilson is more adept at it because he is able to stretch defenses. He has a knack to win contested catches from the perimeter.

Wilson stands just six feet tall, but receivers come in all sizes, Saleh stated. “You have small guys who can play large and big guys that can play small. His body control and ability to move with great range and length is what separates him. He is larger than his measured stature.

Over the years, the Jets haven’t had much success in drafting receivers. However, Wilson — the highest-rated wideout on their team — believes he can reverse that trend. Look at the rookies who can become stars. Cincinnati BengalsJa'Marr Chase2021

Wilson stated, “I am very confident.” Wilson stated, “I believe I can make that impact.”


Everyone evaluates edge rushers by assessing sack production, but Johnson's unique ability to run is what makes him stand out. ESPN's Adam Fuller, Florida State defensive coordinator, said Johnson's greatest attribute is his ability to run.

Johnson said that there is no “pretty-boy work” in the trenches, and he loves this part of his game.

He was an all-round player in the Seminoles base defense. He racked up 5.5 sacks on the first down — the second highest total in FBS.

The Jets have the option to place him on defense at the base. John Franklin-MyersTo tackle. Saleh has already stated that he would like Franklin-Myers to do more inside. He was able to rush only 49 times in the interior, with two sacks. This is a better ratio than the outside (342 rushes, 4 sacks).

Johnson can still play a significant role in sub-packages if he isn't quite ready to begin. They do a lot in rotating, as everyone knows. Last season, no defensive lineman played more that 65% of snaps.


Hall Michael CarterHall will be sharing the carries but Hall is expected to take over at some point due to his speed. He can run the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds. He ran the 40-yard sprint in 4.39 seconds and avoided tackles on 19% his runs last season. This was second among FBS running backs.

Carter was the team's top rusher in his rookie year (639 yards), but only three of his runs were over 20 yards. The Jets simply need more lightning in their backfield. Hall will bring it. That is why he was 18th rated on their board. It should be an easy transition since he ran an Iowa State outside-zone program. He expects to have an immediate effect.

Hall, who ran for 1,472 yard and 20 touchdowns last year, said that Hall is certain. “I'm an influence player.”

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