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Chauncey Gardner-Johnson the most intriguing “project” player on the Saints in 2019

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He could be a play-making starter or off the roster.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

New Orleans Saints 2019 4th Round Pick Chauncey Gardner-Johnson flashes a lot of potential on tape. At the same time, he’s still a player the rest of the NFL didn’t feel deserved to be drafted in the first three rounds due to concerns the raw talent can’t translate to the NFL. He could wind up a defensive starter making Pro Bowl caliber plays both in the backfield and in the box, or he could wind up an early cut in camp who fails to make any NFL roster.

Still, he’s the player Bleacher Report named as the most intriguing player on the Saints roster heading into the 2019 season:

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson can be an all-or-nothing performer. Even still, the New Orleans Saints plan to use their fourth-round pick all over the field.

”Wherever they put me at, I said that my first day in here, I don’t really care,” the rookie told reporters. “I’ll go out there and play football. They can have me at safety and nickel the whole time, (or) if they want me at corner I’ll go play corner.”

Last season, Gardner-Johnson primarily covered the slot for the Florida Gators and allowed an impressive 45.4 passer rating into his coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. He is also highly aggressive, which causes him to take poor angles and miss tackles at times.

At first, he’ll challenge for the starting nickel role. Even if the first-year defensive back doesn’t take the job from veterans Patrick Robinson and P.J. Williams, Gardner-Johnson can serve as a big nickel or extra safety in different sub-packages.

Looking at some of his college highlights, you can see what the Saints like in him. His highlights include ball-hawking interceptions, physicality in the box, and quality tackles.

If CGJ is playing significant minutes for the Saints in 2019, it could be because he’s played himself into such a role, or it could be because projected starters are injured or under-performing. Let’s hope for the former and hope to see CGJ playing starter’s snaps in 2019 because he’s playing at a level where the Saints coaching staff can’t keep him off the field.