How did you react when you got the call from the Saints?
“It was emotional. It’s been a long weekend. “I’m thankful I got the call, but now I’ve got the call so I can put my head down and just work. I appreciate Coach (Sean) Payton, Coach AG (Aaron Glenn), the DC (Dennis Allen) for their prime belief in me and making me their first defensive selection. I am ready go in there and compete and just work.”
How did you get the draft hat so quickly?
“New Era sent me a whole bunch of hats for draft day. I was one guy they sent all the hats to. Now I’m just giving away all the other ones.”
Were you surprised that you were still here on day three?
“Yes, but it’s all in God’s plan. I got drafted. My name got called. Now, when it’s time to get up there, I’m ready to work, put my head down, and just be a great teammate and rookie for everyone to be around.”
Where are you right now?
“I’m at home right now in Cocoa, Florida.”
You said you know Aaron Glenn, what kind of interactions did you have with the Saints before the draft?
“Coach Glenn and I were on the same team in high school (all-star camp) when I went to the (Nike) Opening (camp) in Oregon and he coached me. Since then, he’s always talked to me, kept my head (on straight), made sure I was on track. My last visit was actually with Coach Glenn and it was like, dang, I could probably play for you on a bigger stage and a bigger level, not just in high school. Now that I’m playing alongside of him and the great players they have in the backend, I’m just ready to go in and work.”
Was that visit in Gainesville or did you come to New Orleans?
“I flew to New Orleans.”
What were your impressions of the facility and all the coaches?
“It was beautiful. It was nice. Everything happens for a reason. I’m just glad that I got to see it. Coming down, I got to meet the coaches and everybody there, PR people. (It was great) to see everybody, see how I would react, and see what the city would be like.”
What do you know about the Saints team?
“It’s the best all-around team from top to bottom, offense and defense. I’m just coming into a system where everything has a standard. I’m just going to come in and live up to that standard so everyone on the team and in the front office upstairs can be proud of me and say these guys are set.”
Did you play with Alex Anzalone in college?
“Yes, my freshman year I did.”
Have you talked to him?
“No, actually I’d probably assume he’ll be hitting me up pretty soon.”
Did you go up to Oregon for the Opening Camp?
What year was that for you?
“It was going into my senior year.”
Would you say you are more of a box safety or free safety?
“Both, I play both.”
How much experience do you have playing special teams?
“A lot. I played a lot on special teams my freshman year through junior year, so I’m ready to go out there and compete.”
What do you think your strengths are as a player and as a safety on the field?
“I’m versatile, I can move around and help other guys. “I’m not just a “hop when I see it” kind of guy.” I can cover, I can actually be in the box and just play and pick up the run with my team and just go in and compete.”
Has Brad Stewart (New Orleans native and Florida secondary teammate of Gardner-Johnson) talked to you about New Orleans at all?
“Yes, he just hit me up on Instagram. The whole defensive back unit hit me up. They already know there are going to be a lot of problems with us in the backfield. Everybody’s going to be afraid of us when we play them.”
Do people call you Chauncey or do you have a nickname?
“People call me CJ.”
Do you know anyone on the team besides Alex (Anzalone)?
“No, I know of players, but I don’t know them personally.”
What do you know about Marshon Lattimore?
“He’s the best corner in the NFL. He and his teammate (Eli Apple) played at Ohio State. That’s the best duo in the NFL right now. The d-line’s nasty, those linebackers, the offense is the offense. The offense is great.”
What do you think it is going to be like practicing against Drew Brees and this offense, like Mike Thomas?
“It’s (going to be) a great experience. I can get the real experience in practice so when I get to the game it (will be) much easier. I can go out there and just relax and play my game, and play for the defense.”
Have you spent much time in New Orleans? Was it just on your visit or have you been here before?
“It was just on my visit, and when we played LSU my freshman year I was here (at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge). But I haven’t spent much time in the city.”