Ideal body for a press man corner. Slender, long, physical, fast. Good patience, mirror ability, and hand usage in press coverage. Does well squeezing a receiver to the sideline on an outside release when carrying them vertical. Good use of length at the catch point making it difficult on receivers and quarterbacks. Technique tackler, wraps well and doesn't just dive at runners. Good ability in deep zones when watching the QB and reading him to diagnose the play and get to where ne needs to be.
Lined up almost exclusively at outside CB on the boundary side of the field so there are limited reps in the slot, not that you would want him spending significant time there anyway. Solid hip fluidity for a man that tall, but he is clearly a better linear athlete. While physical at the catch point, he can be overly aggressive and draw penalties, though he showed improvement and cut them way down in 2021. Will need to be more disciplined at the next level to not be manipulated by QBs eyes.
Sauce is a boundary corner that you can win with at the next level. He projects best to an outside role and has an ideal physical profile for the role. Can be a starting boundary CB for a team on day one and be a key component of a Cover 3 or Man heavy scheme. Can have him press with little worries about his ability there Would keep him on the outside and not follow no 1 receivers into areas where they are allowed a two way go.
Big Play Ability
Patient and decisive at the line of scrimmage in press coverage. Uses good feet to mirror receivers and is accurate with his hands. Is physical at squeezing opponents towards the boundary. Solid at the break point with good hip fluidity for someone his height to stay in phase. Good awareness and understanding for when zone turns into man. Has good click and close when reacting to the ball in zone coverage to come down and make a play. His best zone assignment is in a deep 3rd zone when able to play with his eyes in the backfield and read the QB. Will have to be disciplined in this area because he will move off of his landmark.
Has a good ability to close on the ball in zone coverage. Has consistent ball skills throughout his career, logging a PBU or INT on 18.9% of his targets his freshman year, 22.5% his sophomore year, and 15% his final year at Cincinnati. All of this while not ceding a TD in 482 coverage snaps in his career. His length is his main asset in this area, but he can get grabby at times and be overly physical. Will need discipline in order to not draw flags at the next level.
Is no pushover in run support. He will take on blocks with physicality and maintained his contain responsibility and rarely let RBs hit the corner. Is a wrap tackler, I like his technique as he doesn't just ankle tackle or run into ball carriers.
Engage with Blockers
What's more consistent than allowing ZERO touchdowns his entire collegiate career? Plays with a my ball mentality, as evidenced by his ball production. Is supremely physical in how he plays, either against receivers or in the run game. The kid is confident and has swagger. They don't call him Sauce for no reason.
My biggest knock on Gardner is his limited versatility when used at Cincinnati. I don't believe this is purely a coaching thing, as I think he was deployed properly in college. He was exclusively deployed as the outside CB on the boundary side. I think his skills are perfectly tailored to that and he should not be looked at as someone who can slide inside if necessary.