One prospect who may interest the Denver Broncos in the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft is former Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. He is a 5’10”, 191lb corner who is considered by some the top cornerback in the entire draft. Ward is ranked as the second-best corner in the 2018 NFL Draft according to NFLDraftScout.com and is also ranked as the 8th overall prospect in the draft.
Ward played three seasons at Ohio State and during that time was apart of one of the best defenses in the country during that span. During his three-year career, he totaled 67 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions and 24 pass deflections. This past season for the Ohio State Buckeye’s, Ward totaled 37 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions, and 15 pass deflections.
Ward was a first-team All-American on three of the five teams the NCAA uses to determine its consensus and unanimous All-American teams: Associated Press, The Sporting News, and AFCA.
Denzel Ward, Junior, Ohio State
Height: 5’10” Weight: 191lbs 40 time: 4.32 seconds
Arm Length: 31 3/4” Hands: 8 3/4”
Bench Press: 16 reps Vertical Jump: 39.0 inches
Broad Jump: 136.0 inches
- Explosive athlete
- Has quick-twitch ability and is usually the fastest person on the field
- Quick and good feet
- Loose and fluid hips
- Good balance and body control
- Good closing speed to break up passes
- Sticky in coverage and mirrors receivers well
- Despite being under-sized he plays tough
- Good read and react ability
- Was dominant at Ohio State
- Not a press corner
- May struggle against bigger and strong wide receivers
- Might just be a slot corner
- His size limits him as a run defender
- May have benefitted from a strong supporting cast at Ohio State
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah on Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward who he has ranked as his 4th rated player.
Ward is an undersized cornerback (5-foot-10, 191 pounds, per school measurements) with excellent quickness, toughness and ball skills. In press coverage, he is patient and he’ll catch and re-route before settling on the receivers and mirroring down the field. In off coverage, he is a fluid mover and explodes out of his plant to drive on the football. He is very twitched up. Ward’s ball awareness is excellent -- he can locate and high-point the ball down the field. His lack of size does show up on occasion vs. taller opponents, but overall, he plays much bigger than his height. He’s very aggressive in run support and has some snap on contact as a tackler. At the end of the day, Ward might lack ideal size, but he is a very skilled player and I love his competitiveness. He reminds me of a young Adam Jones.
Does Denzel Ward make sense for the Denver Broncos in the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft?
I like Ward’s game. He’s a solid cover corner with great athletic traits who could become a ball-hawking corner in the NFL. However, I do not think he’s worth the 5th pick in the draft.
One of the quarterbacks, guard Quenton Nelson, running back Saquon Barkley, defensive end Bradley Chubb, and even linebacker Roquan Smith would be above Ward in my hypothetical big board. So while I like Ward, I think there will be better prospects available at 5.
Now, If Ward was added to the Broncos secondary, it would help fill the void left by Aqib Talib. He would instantly slide in as the Broncos third corner and likely play the slot. I believe he can play inside and outside but will be best in the slot. This would give the Broncos many matchup options considering all three corners(Harris and Roby) can play inside and outside as well.
Keep in mind, Harris is closing in on 30 years old and Roby is entering the final year of his rookie contract. So the Broncos might be looking for one of their future replacements in the 2018 NFL Draft.
So in the end, while I like Ward, I think the 5th pick will be a tad rich for him. However, I wouldn’t be all that upset if it happened.