Chauncey Gardner-Johnson has a simple explanation for where he gets his swag and confidence.
It comes from the same place he came from.
"I'm from Florida," Gardner-Johnson said. "I play DB so I have to carry some type of chip. But I've been like that since I was a kid. I have always had that type of swag. It's just a Florida thing. We are just different from everybody."
Two days into the New Orleans Saints rookie minicamp, the safety from Florida has already started to make his mark. On Saturday — in the short window the media was allowed to watch practice — Gardner-Johnson recorded an interception during one drill and deflected a pass that was intercepted by Saquan Hampton, the other safety the Saints drafted this year.
It's still early, but Gardner-Johnson so far has made Mickey Loomis and the Saints look good in their decision to trade up 11 spots to nab him with the third pick in the fourth round.
"It's just confirmation of what you saw on tape," said Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn. "When they come in and start making plays, it feels good because you feel like you got the guys you saw on tape and expect to go out on the field and make plays like that."
But Glenn saw something in Gardner-Johnson long before he put anything on tape at Florida.
Glenn and Gardner-Johnson first met a few years ago in Oregon at The Nike Opening, a showcase featuring some of the top high school football players in the country.
"I told him when I was younger that I was going to play for him one day, but I didn't know when," Gardner-Johnson said. "And it happened."
He went by just Chauncey Gardner back then. The Johnson part of his name wasn't added until his junior year of college, a way to pay respect to his step father.
But Glenn knew when they first met at The Opening that there was something special about the guy he now gets to coach in the NFL.
The Saints rookie minicamp started Friday and ends Sunday.
"You saw speed, you saw smarts, you saw a body that you liked that was built to last that you can do a lot of things with," Glenn said. "You're not afraid to put him in the box and let him take on linemen and tackle these big backs you have now."
The two stayed in touch after that while Gardner-Johnson was in college. At Florida, the ball-hawking Gardner-Johnson finished his career with nine interceptions, returning three of them for touchdowns.
"If he had a good game, he would text me to see if I saw it," Glenn said. "But he know I saw it."
Sean Payton has been impressed so far in what he's seen in the 6-foot, 208 pound rookie sporting jersey No. 22, the number that belonged to former Saints running back Mark Ingram for the past eight seasons.
“He’s smart, and he’s quickly picked up the installation," Payton said. "He’s had a good couple of days. You can see he’s versatile. I think he can play over the slot in the nickel role and also as a safety. He’s taken some one-on-one reps, even in corner. He has some versatility.”
It's that versatility that is perhaps Gardner-Johnson's best attribute. Even in rookie minicamp, the Saints are challenging him, shuffling him around as much as possible.
"We tried to stress him, just to see how he would be able to make the transition," Glenn said. "... He was able to do all that stuff. I always talk to him and tell him he has to be able to make that shift. He was able to do that and that's good to be able to see that. We stressed him today."
The Saints already have two solid returning safeties in Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams. But Glenn doesn't think that will be a problem.
"D.A. (Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen) does a good job of finding roles for players," Glenn said. "It's our job to make sure we coach them up to put them in those positions to be successful. I'm a big believer that you can't have too many good players on your team. As a coach, it's our job to find out how to use him."
And as far as Gardner-Johnson is concerned, he doesn't really care where he lines up.
"I don't worry about position," he said. "I just want to play football."