Chauncey Gardner-Johnson Jersey

Heading into his junior season, Gardner-Johnson lengthened his last name from Gardner to honor Brian Johnson, or “Pops”, who has been with his family since Chauncey was young. He played quite well with the new name, starting 11 of 13 games played and making 71 stops, nine for loss, three sacks, a team-high four interceptions and two pass breakups. As a sophomore, Gardner-Johnson started all 11 games for the Gators, posting 58 stops, six for loss, two interceptions and seven pass breakups. In 2016, Gardner-Johnson started as a reserve defensive back and special teams contributor (team-high eight of his 32 tackles that year on coverage units), but eventually started three times in 13 games played. He tied for the team lead with three interceptions, two of which came in the Outback Bowl. He was the game’s MVP, becoming the first freshman to win that honor at Florida since Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith. Gardner-Johnson was a USA Today All-Florida selection as a high school senior at Cocoa High before going to Gainesville.

Heading into his junior season, Gardner-Johnson lengthened his last name from Gardner to honor Brian Johnson, or “Pops”, who has been with his family since Chauncey was young. He played quite well with the new name, starting 11 of 13 games played and making 71 stops, nine for loss, three sacks, a team-high four interceptions and two pass breakups. As a sophomore, Gardner-Johnson started all 11 games for the Gators, posting 58 stops, six for loss, two interceptions and seven pass breakups. In 2016, Gardner-Johnson started as a reserve defensive back and special teams contributor (team-high eight of his 32 tackles that year on coverage units), but eventually started three times in 13 games played. He tied for the team lead with three interceptions, two of which came in the Outback Bowl. He was the game’s MVP, becoming the first freshman to win that honor at Florida since Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith. Gardner-Johnson was a USA Today All-Florida selection as a high school senior at Cocoa High before going to Gainesville.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson thought he would have had his name called before Saturday.

Many projected him to go in the second or third round or Friday.

But once Saturday came around, the safety from Florida didn’t have to wait long.

The Saints moved up in the draft and picked Gardner-Johnson with the third pick of the fourth round.

“It’s been a long day, actually a long weekend,” Gardner-Johnson said from his home in Cocoa, Fla. “I didn’t think I was ever going to get the call. But now that I got the call, I just got to put my head down and work.”

The Saints traded up from the No. 14 spot of the round to select Gardner-Johnson, who was selected to the AP All Bowl team this past season.

He adds to a safety position that currently has Marcus Williams, Vonn Bell and Chris Banjo on the roster. Gardner-Johnson can play either close to the line of scrimmage or free safety.

“It’s the best all around team, top to bottom, on offense and defense,” Gardner-Johnson said. “I’m coming into a system where everything has an identity and standard. I have to come in to live up to that standard and identity so everybody on that team and in the front office upstairs can be proud of me and say this guy is a Saint.”

The Saints drafted Texas A&M offensive lineman Erik McCoy on Friday in the second round.

The New Orleans Saints traded up again in the 2019 NFL Draft, sending their fourth round pick (No. 116) and their fifth round pick (No. 168) to the New York Jets in exchange for No. 105. They then picked Florida Gators defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.

Gardner-Johnson will immediately make an impact on special teams, where he began his Gators career. But his ability to make plays all over the field while defending passes from the slot (intercepting nine passes in his three-year tenure) and mix it up near the line of scrimmage (dropping 15.5 tackles for loss of yards) could make it tough for the Saints to keep him off the field.

The choice to move up for a safety who may not start yet shows how the Saints value last year’s rookie receivers Tre’Quan Smith and Keith Kirkwood, and expect big growth from them moving forward.

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