We recently investigated what the likely level of production could be for Garrett Wilson in his rookie season, based on how other Jets' rookies have fared in the past 25 years, then did the same for Breece Hall, Jeremy Ruckert and Jermaine Johnson II.
Let's now attempt to do the same for cornerback Ahmad Gardner, who was selected by the Jets with the fourth overall pick.
The Jets drafted Darrelle Revis, Kyle Wilson and Dee Milliner in the first round and otherwise, their highest pick was Justin Miller late in the second round. A series of mid-round picks were nearly all disappointments, although the inability of the coaching staff to develop these players was arguably to blame at times.
What everyone is going to be interested in, however, is how Gardner will compare to Revis. Of course Revis was a pro bowler and defensive player of the year candidate by the end of his third season and a starter right off the bat.
People forget, however, that he was picked on a lot during his rookie season and only started to develop into a shutdown corner towards the end of that season. Revis did end up with three interceptions and 17 passes defensed though, so he produced well statistically.
Milliner was obviously a bust, although his initial career path was remarkably similar to Revis', which makes it all the more frustrating that he couldn't stay healthy and was out of the league within a few years. Milliner is still only 30 but has been out of the league for several seasons. His rookie year saw him picked on initially but then starting to develop into a shutdown corner towards the end of the season. And his statistical production? Three interceptions and 17 passes defensed...exactly the same as Revis.
Miller was a washout, who developed into a good kick returner and a bad cornerback. His rookie year saw him start eight games but he had just two passes defensed and never intercepted a pass in his career, let alone his rookie season.
As for Wilson, he was a starting slot corner from the outset and he started his career ominously with a costly pass interference penalty to set up the winning touchdown in his debut against the Ravens. Wilson also had no interceptions and only five passes defensed as a rookie. Gardner is a higher pick than all four of these guys, though, so on paper should be a better prospect.
Could Gardner rack up some interceptions for the Jets in his rookie season? Perhaps, but Patrick Surtain II is the only NFL rookie cornerback to intercept more than three passes in his rookie season over the past three years. His rookie year might ultimately be judged on how well he limits the damage against him when targeted.
What do you think Gardner's numbers will be like in 2022? Let us know in the comments...