Ahmad Gardner Selected at No. 6 in Todd McShay’s Mock Draft 2.0

Ahmad Gardner Selected at No. 6 in Todd McShay's Mock Draft 2.0 thumbnail

The projection is the highest Gardner’s received among any major mock draft.

CINCINNATI — ESPN’s Todd McShay unveiled his second mock draft for the 2022 class on Wednesday, and Ahmad Gardner keeps climbing up the board.

The former shutdown corner for Cincinnati landed at No. 6 to the Carolina Panthers. That projection is the highest of any major mock draft thus far.

“This was the most difficult pick for me,” McShay wrote. “For one, the QB situation remains unresolved. The Panthers are financially invested in Sam Darnold for 2022, but it’s apparent he isn’t the long-term solution. Even so, No. 6 is too rich for any of the signal-callers in this class, and if Carolina is set on drafting one, a move back would be prudent. Then there is the offensive line, which surrendered 52 sacks in 2021 (fifth most). But again, the board doesn’t fill the holes. Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross could work, but he’s No. 22 on my board at the moment. (I’m a little lower on him than some teams, and he could be a top-10 pick.)

“So I ended up going with the best available, and that’s absolutely Gardner. I mean, he gave up all of 60 yards in 14 games last season. That’s a true shutdown cornerback. And yes, the Panthers took Jaycee Horn at No. 8 last season, but this duo would be one of the best young tandems in the league. A team has used top-10 picks on defensive backs in back-to-back drafts just three times in the common draft era — and Carolina traded for CJ Henderson, who was Jacksonville’s ninth pick in 2019 — but Stephon Gilmore and Donte Jackson are both free agents, meaning this group isn’t as strong as it appears.”

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Gardner was the first cornerback taken and only UC player selected in McShay’s first-round mock draft. Four quarterbacks went off the board in this exercise, but Desmond Ridder was not one of them.

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