NFL Draft 2022: Final 32-pick Round 1 mock with trades

"THE PICK IS IN" for the San Francisco 49ers during the 2018 NFL Draft (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
"THE PICK IS IN" for the San Francisco 49ers during the 2018 NFL Draft (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati Bearcats
Ahmad Gardner #1 of the Cincinnati Bearcats (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

player. 830. . Cornerback. Bearcats . Ahmad Gardner. 7

NFL Draft Pick No. 7: New York Giants – Ahmad Gardner, Cornerback, Cincinnati

The New York Giants could look to trade down with this pick, but with cornerback James Bradberry on the trading block and very unlikely to be on the team this upcoming season, the Giants may not be able to resist taking their pick of a trio of very talented cornerbacks.

The question of who the first cornerback off the board seems to be down to between Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner and LSU’s Derek Stingley, with Washington’s Trent McDuffie probably more the third cornerback off the board now. Stingley was once considered a potential top-five pick after an exceptional freshman year where he shut down one half of the field, but injuries and the emergence of Gardner has the Cincinnati product in the discussion.

When you look at the tape of Gardner, you see a potential shutdown cornerback for the NFL. He’s much more exceptional in zone coverage but can play man-based schemes as well, and his speed allows him to make plays on the football and cover faster receivers.

Gardner is a competitor and just plain doesn’t like to be beaten. He’s shown consistency in making plays on the ball with three interceptions in every season with the Bearcats, and he flashed some potential as a blitzer with three sacks this season as well.

The only question marks on Gardner is he’s had some tendencies to grab when he does need to play man coverage and his tackling can be suspect at times, but those are issues that can be rectified in training camp.

With a strong collegiate career and an excellent combine under his belt, Gardner looks poised to be the first defensive back off the board.