As he embarks on an NFL career that should start with his name getting called Thursday night, Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner has no shortage of confidence.
The former Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback is a potential top-10 pick in this year's NFL Draft, but he thinks any team may lament passing him up.
“I feel like I’m the chosen one,” Gardner told NJ.com's Darryl Slater after an NFL charity event. “I feel like I’m the best in the draft. There’s no doubt about it. There’s no way I can be a bust. That shouldn’t even be an option.”
Having worked his way up Cincinnati's depth chart to emerge as a premier draft prospect, Gardner is ready to handle any more challenges he faces.
“I was always on the bottom of the barrel, and I always overcame all the adversity and obstacles,” Gardner said. “So I feel like it was just meant for me to be where I am today.”
Gardner said he's ready to "dominate any receiver who lines up in front of me" and believes succeeding in the New York media market would "be easy." The Giants (No. 5 and 7) and Jets (No. 4 and 10) each have two top-10 choices and could use a shutdown cornerback, giving Gardner a decent chance of beginning his career in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The 21-year-old is also ready to defy the position's normal aging curve and continue to improve until he's playing his best football at age 30.
These are all lofty goals, but Gardner has the talent to walk the talk.