Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
After the combine, it is clear that Denzel Ward is the top corner in this draft. He has elite cover skills on tape, and that will go a long way in the NFL. He also has elite speed which he displayed at the NFL combine. He ran a 4.32-second forty-yard-dash. Ward has fluid hips and can open up and make the play on the deep ball. I also liked that he was willing in the run defense department. He isn’t the biggest defender, but he wasn’t afraid to stick his nose into the runner. He also is a fairly smart defender who showed that he would use the boundary to his advantage.
The biggest knock on Ward is his height. He isn’t short, but he is only 5’10.” In the NFL, teams like a long corner in the first round. He also showed on tape that he struggles against taller receivers which is reasonable to expect at 5’10”. Ward was also asked to play a lot of zone at Ohio State and that did not play to his advantage. He is better used in man coverage. Another fault I found in his game is that he hesitated a bit when blitzing and so you have to think that can be corrected easily. He will probably want to be left in coverage anyway.
Despite the height disadvantage, he showed at the combine that he is the best corner in this draft. Teams want cover corners and that is exactly what they will get in Ward. He is the type of guy that can be matched up against the opponents fastest receiver and he will stay with him. I think he is a top 10 pick because cover corners are so important in today’s NFL. Look for him to start right away in the NFL.