Per NFL insider Ari Meirov, Gardner won the award by an wide margin, beating out Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Tariq Woolen, who were second and third in the voting, respectively.
Defensive Rookie of the Year voting:
Sauce Gardner: 46
Aidan Hutchinson: 3
Tariq Woolen: 1
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) February 10, 2023
Gardner was selected by the Jets with the fourth overall pick out of Cincinnati. He finished the year with 20 passes defensed, while having 75 tackles and two interceptions along with it. In doing so, he helped New York become one of the best defenses in the NFL.
The Jets had a team that was carried by their defense, and the selection of Gardner was a cornerstone to that. New York was second in the league in points per game allowed and fourth in yards given up per contest. Gardner, along with fellow corner D.J. Reed, forged one of the toughest duos to throw the ball against.
Of course, with being a cornerback comes having to forget about plays, particularly the ones where they get beaten by a receiver for a big play or touchdown. Confidence bordering on cockiness is also a trait of a good defensive back, and with a name like Sauce, Gardner isn't lacking for any of those qualities. Who can forget how he hilariously trolled Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers after his Jets beat the Packers?
If someone is going to run smack, they better be able to back it up. The defensive rookie of the year award is a good way to show Sauce has game to go with the talk.