5 early 2022 prospects for the Minnesota Vikings to watch

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Kaiir Elam
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Kaiir Elam /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Ahmad Gardner /

Ahmad Gardner – CB (Cincinnati)


  • Height: 6-foot-2 | Weight: 188 pounds

2020 Stats:

  • 28 tackles
  • 3 INTs
  • 6 pass breakups

Ahmad Gardner is another cornerback that measures similarly to Kaiir Elam. Given that he goes by “Sauce” Gardner, there is no lack of confidence and his play tends to back it up. Despite being a slim corner, he uses his length to make plays on a consistent basis, and he has earned All-AAC First-Team honors in each of his two seasons.

Not many true freshmen step in and dominate their competition, but Gardner did exactly that while also propelling the Bearcats to an inspiring run in 2020. The Cincinnati defense was one of the best units in college football last season and Gardner was a huge reason for that.

In almost 600 career coverage snaps, Sauce has not allowed a single touchdown reception. He does a great job of using his long arms to get into the chest of receivers and meet the ball at the catch point. While he may be a little handsy at times, there is enough to work with to make him a first-round sleeper in 2022.

If Gardner can add some weight to make him a better press corner and tackler, he will be a very good find in next year’s draft. He does not shy away from the biggest moments and that’s all you can ask for from a young defensive back. He just needs to clean up some of his post-snap technique and his hands as he gets further down the field.