Peter Schrager 2022 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: 3 QBs in 1st Round, Sauce Gardner to Giants

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 19, 2022

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 02: Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Ahmad Gardner (1) reacts after a play during a game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Cincinnati Bearcats on October 2, 2021, in South Bend, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, one of the most coveted defenders in this year's draft class, lands with the New York Giants at No. 7 overall in the second mock draft from NFL Network's Peter Schrager.

Other notable picks from the mock released Tuesday include the Jacksonville Jaguars taking Georgia defensive end Travon Walker with the No. 1 selection and three quarterbacks going in Round 1: Pitt's Kenny Pickett to the Carolina Panthers (No. 6), Liberty's Malik Willis to the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 20) and Ole Miss' Matt Corral to the Detroit Lions (No. 32).

Gardner has become one of the most talked-about prospects in the class, in large part because he has a wide range of potential landing spots in the top 10. Add in the fact both the Giants and Jets are contenders to land him and the hype is off the charts.

Most of it is warranted because the 2021 consensus All-American is a potential game-changer in the secondary. He's coming off a season with the Bearcats in which he tallied 40 tackles, four passes defended, three interceptions and three sacks in 13 games.

Gardner said he thrives when put in one-on-one matchups on the outside.

"I love being left on an island," he told reporters in March. "I don't have to worry about anybody else but my man. ... I feel like I can eliminate the best receiver on the field."

His arrival would be a welcome sight for either of the New York teams, though he could end up coming off the board as early as No. 2 to the Detroit Lions.

Meanwhile, there's still no set order for this year's quarterback prospects. Pickett and Willis are most often predicted to come off the board first, but it wouldn't be a total shock if Corral or Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder earn that distinction instead.

It all depends on what each team is searching for at the position. Willis has the most dual-threat playmaking potential, which gives him the most upside in the modern game, but Pickett is more NFL-ready and could develop into a high-end pocket passer.

The Panthers are in a difficult position because after picking No. 6 overall they aren't scheduled for another selection until No. 137 deep in the fourth round. So they have little choice but to use their first pick on a QB unless the right trade-down opportunity emerges.

Going with Pickett would give them a prospect who would immediately be ready to take over the offense, which could be the preferred route with the front office and coaching staff facing pressure to turn things around quickly after four straight playoff-less seasons.

Meanwhile, though Willis to the Steelers at No. 20 would be great value, it wouldn't be a surprise if a team traded up for the Liberty star if he's still available outside the top 10.