Jets phenom rookie pulls off feat last accomplished 41 years ago

Sauce Gardner already might be the NFL’s best cornerback.

The New York Jets‘ stud defender just completed his first season in the league.

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Sauce Gardner, #1 of the New York Jets, reacts during the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on January 1, 2023, in Seattle, Washington.

Sauce Gardner, #1 of the New York Jets, reacts during the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on January 1, 2023, in Seattle, Washington.
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Gardner made history on Friday when he was named a First-team All-Pro: he became the first rookie corner to make First-team honors since Ronnie Lott did so as a member of the San Francisco 49ers in 1981.

Of course, that proved to be a preview of what was to come for Lott. He was a six-time All-Pro, 10-time Pro Bowler, made both the All-1980s and All-1990s Teams, won four Super Bowls, and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000, the same year Gardner was born.

Sauce Gardner #1 of the New York Jets looks on against the Philadelphia Eagles during the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 12, 2022, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Jets defeated the Eagles 24-21.

Sauce Gardner #1 of the New York Jets looks on against the Philadelphia Eagles during the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 12, 2022, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Jets defeated the Eagles 24-21.
(Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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Yes, it’s way too early to even think about whether Gardner, 22, will have those accolades, but it’s certainly a good start.

“None of this would be possible without you and the great group of guys on our defense;especially the D-LINE,” Gardner tweeted Friday.

Gardner was the fourth selection of last year’s NFL Draft out of the University of Cincinnati. He led the NFL with 20 pass breakups, and he didn’t allow a touchdown all year, nor did he do that in his entire college career.

The Jets went 7-10 this season but lost their final six games of the season. They were not officially eliminated from playoff contention until Week 17, and had it been for better quarterback play throughout the season, they probably would be gearing up for a game.

New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner (1) defends during the National Football League game between the New York Jets and the Chicago Bears on November 27, 2022, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  

New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner (1) defends during the National Football League game between the New York Jets and the Chicago Bears on November 27, 2022, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  
(Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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The rookie phenom is a key cog for what could, and should, be a Jets team that vies for a playoff spot this season, and he’s certainly a candidate to be a Jet for life.

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