It's looking increasingly like Sauce Gardner will be headed to New York.
Peter Schrager of NFL Network reported Thursday that the Jets prefer the Cincinnati cornerback over Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. or a wideout with the No. 4 overall pick.
Gardner has emerged as the top cornerback in this class after locking down opposing wideouts on the outside each of the past two seasons. He led college football in opposing quarterback rating against in 2020 and 2021, earning All-American honors in each campaign.
Cincinnati became the first Group of Five team to reach the College Football Playoff in large part because of a dominant defense led by Gardner.
"I feel like I'm the chosen one," Gardner said, per Darryl Slater of NJ.com. "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."
The Jets have pick Nos. 4 and 10 in the first round. They seem likely to target a wide receiver with their second selection if they go Gardner at No. 4, with Ohio State's Garrett Wilson and USC's Drake London standing out as potential options.
The cornerback spot takes a bit of a dip after Gardner and Stingley, so going corner early seems like the prudent move. There are as many as six wideouts who could go in Round 1 on Thursday, whereas the corner spot has only three true locks (Gardner, Stingley and Trent McDuffie).