CB Cincinnati 6-2 190 JR #1
GRADE: 92 OVR RANK: 6 POS RANK: (CB) 3
ARM LENGTH: 33 ½”//HAND SIZE: 95/8”//40YD: 4.41 (90%)//10YD: 1.51 (93%)
VJ: ( %)//BJ: ( %)//BP: ( %)//SS: ( %)//3C: ( %)
Projection: Starting Press Man CB, could play some Zone but better in a scheme that prioritizes man coverage. Draft Projection: Top 10 ~ GrindingTheMocks.com
Ravens Fit: Gardner is a perfect fit in the Ravens scheme. His footwork to match angles in soft press and his length with a jam at the line of scrimmage is the stuff Ravens CB dreams are made of. They’d likely want him to get his hands on more balls both to break them up and to get interceptions as they’re looking for defensive playmakers but he wasn’t targeted often at Cincinnati, teams stayed well away from him. Harbaugh would want better tackling technique out of him too but he’s a high-end CB prospect with great length who could be deployed as a coverage weapon early before settling into a long-term starting role.
Overall Fit 4/5
Mostly press man CB.
He has absolutely ridiculous length for the position but more than that, he deploys it well in many different situations. This begins with his line of scrimmage skills, where he uses hand usage to disrupt the WR at the LOS when in press with a jam. His hand placement is good but he has a large margin for error with this because of his length, he makes use of all of the first five yards to redirect the WR, if he whiffs with one arm, his other long lever won’t miss. He has an aggressive temperament but he’s also patient with how he plays receivers off the line. When pressing without a jam, he has excellent footwork for his size and can match angles. He plays mostly in man coverage and he is able to stay plastered to his receiver throughout the route. He can be a little high and choppy in his backpedal but he stays out of a traditional pedal, operating mostly on the 45. He has remarkable fluidity in his hips for someone of his size and though his feet look a little choppy when moving straight backwards, he compensates for this operating mostly on the half-turn putting him in position to change direction with efficiency due to his fluidity.
He is an explosive athlete and while his drive mechanics need some cleaning up – some false steps with transitioning to forward movement – he is able to stay in phase with harder angle breaks because of his explosion, speed, length, physicality and processing. He does read WRs hips well and route progressions which adds to his play speed.
Smooth receivers who can match his physicality and length can separate from him on in-breaking routes because of the slight deficiency in his transition mechanics but the ball must be thrown with timing and accuracy because he can use his length and recovery speed to get back on the route. His ball skills are helped again by his length, his timing and placement to break up the pass is solid but he’s often reliant on his length to help him in this phase of the game. He wasn’t often targeted but when he does he gets his hands on his fair share of balls.
Run Support and Tackling
He beats blocks with savvy, length and decent play strength for his size. He will pop bigger ball carriers but he also can struggle to come from high to low in the open-field and make form tackles. The ball-carrier will brush through high, arm tackles. He doesn’t shy from contact and is certainly physically tough, but he could show better tackling technique and take advantage of that length again here, in this part of his game, as he does so often in other areas. He stays gap disciplined as the outside CB and plays well as the force player as he is able to hold up with his length at the point of attack.
Ridiculously long CB with surprising movement skills for someone of his size. Stays in phase through processing, athleticism and length. Could improve tackling technique
JR: 3 sacks, 40 total tackles, 1 FF, 3 INT, 3 PBU
SO: 1 sack, 25 total tackles, 3 INT, 6 PBU