7 cornerbacks the Vikings could select in the 2022 NFL Draft

Trent McDuffie (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Trent McDuffie (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports) Ahmad Gardner /

Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (Cincinnati)

Measurements:

  • Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 190 pounds

2021 Stats:

  • 40 tackles
  • 3 interceptions
  • 4 passes defended
  • 131 yards allowed

You can call him Ahmad, or you can call him Sauce, but you certainly cannot call him a reach. Gardner is probably going to be the first cornerback off the board and has a chance to be the first defensive back to hear his name called on April 28.

Cincinnati proved that they were more than a heartwarming story in college football in 2020 and they kept the train rolling in 2021 thanks to a stout defense led by Sauce Gardner on the outside. His blend of size, speed, and pure coverage ability makes him one of the premier players in this draft.

Mock drafts have Gardner landing anywhere between picks No. 2 and No. 12. If he is indeed available with the 12th overall pick, the Vikings might set a record for quickest card delivery in the history of the draft. He would step in as the best cornerback on the roster from Day 1 and give Minnesota a long-term answer in the secondary.

Giving Kevin O’Connell a lengthy corner that can eliminate one side of the field would make his transition to head coach a lot easier. The Vikings have drastically improved their pass rush and adding Gardner to one side of the defense would really make things tough for quarterbacks.

It seems incredibly unlikely that Gardner will be available when the Vikings are on the clock due to his ceiling as a top-flight NFL defender. If Minnesota has to trade up to land him, then so be it. He is worth every bit of trading up to get his talents for the defense.

In 14 games last season, Gardner allowed just 131 yards in coverage and kept his streak alive of zero touchdowns given up. In three seasons with the Bearcats, Gardner never allowed his opponent to score on him.