Sauce Gardner has shown throughout his rookie season with the New York Jets that he does not lack for confidence, on or off the field. So, it should come as no surprise who he thinks should win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors this season.

That would be Sauce Gardner.

“I’ve been going up against some tough receivers, some of the best,” the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft told Newsday. “I feel like that is one of the things that set me apart from not all the corners of the League but the rookie cornerbacks and defensive rookies in general.”

Playing a premium position, Gardner brings swagger to the Jets' defense and has backed up his bravado with solid play week-in, week-out. He has more than held his own against the likes of Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, Mark Andrews, Tee Higgins and Jaylen Waddle.

“I can go up against the best,” Sauce Gardner said.

The numbers back that up. Through 12 games, Gardner has the best coverage grade (86.0) among all NFL corners to play at least 250 passing downs (470), per Pro Football Focus. He leads the league with 15 passes defended and has two interceptions. Quarterbacks have completed 43.9 of their throws in his direction (25 of 57) for 256 yards and only one touchdown.

“No other (rookie) corners went up against the guys that I’ve been going against and had the success that I’ve had,” Gardner said.

Gardner also has the clutch gene. He has had pass breakups to seal wins against the Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills.

The 22-year-old likely is competing with Seattle Seahawks corner Tariq Woolen (6 interceptions, 73.0 coverage grade per PFF) and Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (7 sacks) for the award.

Sauce Gardner will be tested again this week when the Jets visit the Bills, trying to limit Diggs and star quarterback Josh Allen.