4. Players the New York Giants should draft in Round 1 – Ahmad Gardner
At first glance, mocking a cornerback to the Giants makes little sense since they have two strong starters in James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson. New York’s salary cap woes do raise the possibility that they would have to move on from Bradberry to create cap space for 2022 and beyond, which would create a glaring hole opposite Jackson in the secondary.
A good option to fill that hole is Gardner, who is vying with LSU’s Derek Stingley as the best cornerback in this year’s draft class. Stingley does have some injury concerns as he is coming off of foot surgery, making Gardner the choice if the Giants opt to go with a corner at either No. 5 or No. 7.
Gardner is the textbook definition of a shutdown corner as he gave up only 60 yards in 14 games last season, an absurd level of production for Cincinnati. The competition level is a fair question for Gardner, who didn’t face the kind of elite competition Stingley did at LSU while playing in the American, but his talent is off the charts.
Replacing Bradberry with Gardner while creating a ton of cap space in the process would be a home-run move for Schoen, who could even add another draft pick by trading Bradberry instead of simply releasing him. That kind of foresight would help New York secure two potential starters for the price of one.