6-7/305 Georgia Tech
Pros: Has good size and strength with potential as a run blocker. Capable in pass protection. Has a mean streak and does a good job finishing his blocks. Gets nice push up front and is solid in a short area. Blocks well on the move and does a nice job cutting linebackers on the second level.
Cons: Doesn't have the athleticism to be a top pass protector or strength to be a top run blocker. Needs to improve his balance as he's a waist bender and ends up on the ground too much. Struggles against speed rushers. Doesn't always get good depth on his drops and at times will have stiff feet.
Overview: Gardner showed toughness this past year playing with a torn labrum in his shoulder for most of the year, but had season-ending surgery in November. He was a four-year starter at left tackle, but probably will move to the right side in the pros.
NFL Forecast: Gardner projects better for right tackle, but could manage to stick as a left tackle at the next level. But I doubt he would excel there, and would probably be average at best there. Has potential to be a solid right tackle. Even projects fairly well inside. Gardner is one of the players that is probably not going to be a top player at his position, but can be good enough that his team isn't actively looking to replace him. Right now, I'd like to bulk him up some and develop him on the right side.
ATL Forecast: Gardner could work initially as a capable swing tackle for the Falcons able to give them an option this year in case Baker struggles. But I doubt he is anything more than serviceable there. The team would likely have just as much success putting Dahl or Clabo there. But he could developed as a starter to play on the right side down the road. Let him play backup this year, and he could potentially challenge Clabo for the right tackle spot in 2010. He won't be a great player, but could be as good as a player like Nick Kaczur.
Value: Gardner is a solid middle round pick that I think would make a nice pick late in the fourth or fifth round.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.