One of the five Florida Gators to enter the 2019 NFL Draft early had to wait until Day 3 to hear his name called. But Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is heading to maybe the best situation a Gator will get to over the course of this draft, having been selected by the New Orleans Saints early in the fourth round on Saturday.
Gardner-Johnson was chosen by the Saints with the fourth pick of the fourth round, and at No. 105 overall.
He will likely slot into a hybrid slot corner/safety role for New Orleans, a team that was perhaps one controversial no-call on a blatant pass interference from playing for the Super Bowl. And in the same role for Florida, he thrived, especially as a junior in 2018, when he was third on the team with 71 tackles, collected three sacks, and nabbed four interceptions, including one returned in the Gators’ Peach Bowl triumph over Michigan.
And last year was a bounce-back for Gardner-Johnson, who struggled early in his sophomore season in 2017 after starring as a freshman for the Gators. The always-confident Cocoa High product — who joined fellow high school and collegiate teammate Jawaan Taylor and Ohio State-turned-Auburn defensive back Jamel Dean as the third player from the small-school power drafted in 2019 — grew into a leader for the Gators, and burnished his rep enough to be considered a likely Day 2 pick with an outside shot at the first round at the time of his declaration for the draft.
But concerns about his size, at just under 5’11”, may have helped push Gardner-Johnson to Day 3 — though the Saints did trade up to get into position to draft him, suggesting that they might have coveted him as a prospect.
Several more could yet go on this day, with a mixture of early entrants and seniors who finished their careers still waiting on selections.