Yesterday, David Wyatt noted that the New York Jets are interested in Courtney Gardner, a wide receiver from Sierra College. Mr. Gardner is considered one of the biggest sleepers in the 2013 NFL Draft, as he has incredible measurables and is a polished route runner. The biggest knock against him is the competition he faced at Sierra, which is a junior college (JUCO). Because Mr. Gardner is not very well known and has some questions attached to him, I wanted to ask the man himself. Mr. Gardner has compared himself to A.J. Green and Julio Jones, but many experts have said he more closely resembles Justin Blackmon:
Courtney was originally scheduled to transfer to the University of Oklahoma, where his draft status could have skyrocketed, not unlike Cordarrelle Patterson of the University of Tennessee. I asked Courtney why he decided not to transfer, and instead declare for the draft. He explained that many of his course credits wouldn't transfer over, and it would have been an extremely long process of taking extra courses. In effect, it became too big of a hassle for it to be worth it. He made it clear, though, that he was not abandoning Oklahoma or anything like that, but it was a mutual decision by both the school and him that it was in his best interests.
Furthermore, moving from Sierra to the National Football League is going to be a big jump for Courtney, who said he needs to work on "making faster reads." He wants to work on reading man and zone coverages, and to "be a student of the game." He acknowledged it's a process, but stated that his best attribute is how aggressive he is in his playing style. Whether it's running routes or blocking, of which he stated he was especially proud of, Courtney wants to be an aggressive player. Experts have acknowledged that Courtney is an especially smooth route runner, and he added to that by stating that he loves getting yards after the catch and is especially good at doing so.
Another item that I wanted to clarify was Courtney's arrest record. Last March, Courtney was charged with misdemeanor obstruction charges, and that he was in a car that smelled of alcohol and marijuana. Courtney explained that he wasn't charged with any type of possession, and that there was no alcohol or marijuana in the car. He said that the police officer pulled him over for tailgating, and it quickly became clear there was no substantive reason for why he was being pulled over. Courtney admitted he pushed the officer a little too far by asking why he was being pulled over, and he felt the officer was making up a reason, which explains the obstruction charges.
When I spoke to Courtney, he stated that he had just finished a workout for the New England Patriots in Reno, Nevada, where he is training. He said that his agent has been contacted by numerous teams, including the Jets, San Diego Chargers, Carolina Panthers, and Miami Dolphins. In short, it seems as though Courtney is a near lock to be drafted, and I suspect that the fifth round would be an appropriate place for him.
With almost all of my interviews, I generally end by asking what the player wants the coaches to say when they're discussing him during training camp. What do they want to be known for? In Courtney's case, he stated that he was willing to do anything they wanted, including special teams. Essentially, he wants to be known as a team player. I know I'd be happy if the Jets drafted Courtney Gardner.