The first round of the NFL Draft was a huge success for New York football.
As CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reports, both the Jets and Giants were winners in a whirlwind draft.
This was the most unpredictable draft in a long time with plenty of surprises. A pair of elite receivers were traded and six more were drafted.
The emphasis on the passing game helped shape the direction for the Jets, and their first pick has a real New York nickname — “Sauce.”
Jets opponents used to get locked down on “Revis Island.” Now, they’ll get a taste of the awesome Sauce — cornerback Ahmad Gardner.
“I was a fan favorite in New York, you know, and I wanted to go somewhere I was wanted. You know, I feel like it kind of felt like recruiting a little bit just because all of the fans wanted me and they was able to get me,” Gardner said. “I can’t wait to get there.”
The NFL has transformed into a passing league, and the Jets land the best cover corner available. Gardner didn’t allow a single touchdown his entire college career.
“Sauce can do everything. He can play zone, he can play man, he can win in crunch time, he can run with the fastest guys, he can defend the biggest guys. He’s elite,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said.
The Jets have been trying to trade for a receiver all offseason, but got one with the 10th pick. Garrett Wilson, of Ohio State, is a deep threat sure to give Zach Wilson a formidable weapon.
“I know he likes to air it out, and I can’t wait to start building chemistry with Zach as soon as I get up there in N.Y.,” Garrett Wilson said.
The Jets considered drafting pass rusher Jermaine Johnson, of Florida State, at 10, but when he started to fall down the board, the Jets jumped at the chance to trade back into the first round and pick him up at pick number 26.
“It feels awesome, you know. Our thoughts and everything align. We like to play defense the same way,” Johnson said. “I’m just excited to bring everything I can do to the Jets.”
The Giants were equally successful. It started with an excited 19-year-old heart transplant recipient getting his Make-A-Wish granted by announcing the fifth pick — Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Sam Prince stole the show with his enthusiastic style, matching the energy the Giants’ new pass rusher is expected to bring to the field.
“I know I can do it, but I gotta put it in every day. It can’t be proclaimed. It’s not something we can talk about. I can tell you it now and not do it tomorrow, but I gotta be a guy who goes to do it. I have to be a guy who has something to show for it,” Thibodeaux said.
The Giants were still able to draft a blue chip offensive lineman two picks later. Evan Neal is a 350-pound mountain from Alabama. Many consider him the best lineman in the draft.
“I’m a Florida boy, so going up there to New York is going to be a different setting, but I’ll be able to adjust to it. So I’m just excited to see what the future unfolds,” Neal said.
The Jets and the Giants both addressed their biggest areas of need. Experts have already graded out the winners of the first round, ranking the Jets number one and the Giants number two.
Each team is positioned to have an equally great second night of the draft Friday night.