University of Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner has emerged as a coveted shutdown defensive back with NFL teams setting the table for a busy schedule of visits, fancy dinners, and private meetings.
Which NFL teams are meeting with Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner?
Long and athletic at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds with 4.41 speed in the 40-yard dash, Gardner combines size and traits with instincts and football skills. The Detroit native plays the game with a ton of confidence and has the kind of competitive demeanor to match up with dangerous wide receivers.
The consensus All-American and conference Defensive Player of the Year only allowed 6.6 yards per reception last season, intercepted three passes, and recorded three sacks. He finished his career with nine interceptions. He never allowed a touchdown pass in three seasons for the Bearcats.
“I’m a leader,” Gardner said at the NFL scouting combine. “I’m very competitive. I love the game of football. I’m very physical. I like to get hands on receivers, you know, just make sure I lead by example with my teammates. I love it, I love being on an island. You know, I ain’t got to worry about nobody else but my man, you know.
“It’s cool. I can play man, zone, but I love playing press man for sure. My competitive spirit my love for the game. You know, I truly believe I’m the best cornerback. I make sure I’m leading by example. I’m not a smoker, not a drinker. I never have, never will. I make sure I do the little things right.”
Now, Gardner is set for a busy schedule of top-30 visits.
Busy NFL schedule awaits Sauce
Gardner, 21, has top-30 visits with the New York Jets, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, and Seattle Seahawks, according to league sources. He has already met privately with Texans coach Lovie Smith, per sources, at the Cincinnati Pro Day workout where he stood on his NFL Combine testing numbers. He also met with the Giants, Jets, and New Orleans Saints at his pro day.
The Martin Luther King graduate was an All-State selection who caught four passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns in the state championship game. He got off to a fast start with the Bearcats, intercepting three passes as a true freshman and returning two of them for touchdowns. He was named first-team All-Conference.
Nicknamed “Sauce” by a youth football coach, Gardner gets high marks for talent, character, and upside from NFL scouts.
“Sauce checks a lot of boxes for us,” an NFL executive said. “The kid has got every trait you look for in a corner. He’ll become a more physical tackler as he gets bigger and stronger. That’s not why you draft him, though. You draft him because he can flat-out cover.”
As for the catchy nickname, Gardner explained it in Indianapolis.
“I was given a nickname when I was six years old by my Little League coach he said he seen a vision that he don’t think I’ve seen, you know what I’m saying?” Gardner said. “It means a lot to me. You know, it’s been sticking with me all the way to now. You know, I’m just gonna make sure I run with it.
“There’s not really a meaning, but my personal meaning what I can say it means is, you know, a level of competence. You know, when I’m on and off the field. I make sure I got the sauce.”