Scout- Jack Bourgeois
College: Ohio State
Bench Press: 16
Q.A.B./C.O.D. 8.50 Ward is an above average athlete with quick tight footwork, agility and acceleration. He shows balance and recovery when being bullied by more physical receivers. Good Lateral movement. Flexibility 6.50 Good knee bend, keeps his shoulders low when back peddling and has quick hips that allow him to and run without losing any speed. His flexibility shows when adjusting last second to the ball in air. Deep Speed 8.70 He doesn’t get beat over the top, he has the speed to go step for step with any wide receiver he lines up against. Explosion 7.00 Good quickness and pop when changing directions. Explosive breaks on routes once he has diagnosed the play. Coordination 7.00 Denzel has decent hand and eye coordination and has some of the best footwork of his draft class but tends to over extend back his step when recovering on a receiver’s route break.
Coverage Ability: 7.50
Man Press 8.00 Though he is undersized and overpowered at the line of scrimmage, Ward still maintains his balance and never loses his footing, blanketing his opponent throughout the route. He refuses to let his size affect his playing style and will not shy away from attempting to over power his opponent. Man Off 8.50 Ward is at his best when shadowing his man in off coverage, the less contact he makes with his opponent, the easier it is for him to use his footwork to run players off of their route, forcing them to adjust due to his 1-on-1 route reaction time. Zone 7.00 Ohio St runs a heavy man coverage defense, he was rarely asked to play in zone but performed well when need to. He is extremely aware of his responsibilities and has shown great communication when transferring coverage from on player to another. Hand Fighting 6.50 He is a very aggressive hand fighter, though he’s too small to over power anyone, or jam them at the line of scrimmage. He gets away with a lot of defensive holding calls and is aggressive once the ball is in the air. Hips/Turn Ability 7.50 Denzel possesses good hips mechanics that allow him to turn and run but he often turns to early in the route anticipating the deep route and will lose to corner, comeback routes and double moves on occasion.
Play Making: 7.83
Closing Quickness 9.00 Extremely fast closing quickness/speed, rarely shown because he’s usually within arms reach of his opponent at all times. Has shown the ability to chase down even the fastest of players while coming from the opposite side of the field, saving multiple touchdowns last season. Ball skills 7.00 Ward had an insane amount of pass defenses last year but also dropped a few surefire Int’s. He’s a better route reader and cover guy than he is a ball hawk. Route/play Diagnosis 7.50 It is obvious on film that Ward understands play/route concepts and that he thoroughly studies his opponents. He often jumps routes the second the wideout makes his cut, anticipating the ball location and constantly creating pass break ups
Run Support: 6.83
Quickness Up field 7.50 Very quick to attack once he detects a run to his side. Excellent acceleration when blitzing off the corner. Fight Through Blocks 7.00 Refuses to accept being blocked. Will dodge blockers verse taking them head on. Tackling 6.00 He has a willingness to lower his shoulder and attempt to make a hit/tackle, but his size limits his efficiency. He tends to go low against ball carriers.
Toughness 8.50 Refuses to let his size dictate how he’s going to play, he’s a very scrappy 190 pound cornerback who isn’t afraid to tackle anyone on the field. Production 8.00 Highly productive as both a slot and outside corner, his numbers and production would be even better if not for teams like Oklahoma who completely neglected any wide receiver Denzel was covering. Consistency/Motor 8.00 Very consistent player, doesn’t lose a step of speed from the 1st-4th quarter and remains aggressive regardless of the score or outcome of the game.
Instincts 8.00 Outside of Ward learning to continuously get his head turned around when the ball is in the air on deep routes, he is very instinctual and doesn’t lose time between thought and body movement. Learn/Retain 7.50 You can tell Ward is a game film junkie, he has a exceptional Football IQ and learned from a pair of 1st rounders in Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore before taking over as Ohio State’s #1 corner. Teamwork 8.00 Great team player, very vocal and has command of the secondary, directs teammate’s assignments and tells them where to line up on audibles and pre snap reads.
Denzel Ward is a supremely aggressive corner who’s blessed with the speed, acceleration and agility to cover wideouts both down the field, as well as laterally. His footwork and mechanics are arguably the best in draft amongst this years defensive backs. He is extremely aggressive both when the ball is in the air and against the run. Ward doesn’t shy away from contact and at only a 190 lbs, he had one of the biggest hits in college football last season. He’s a scrappy hand fighter, who refuses to let his size determine his playing style. With good length, great instincts and remarkable play diagnosis, he’s a problem for any wide receiver or quarterback.
Ward’s main weakness is that he is undersized, though he has good arm length, he is often overpowered in press coverage and in the red zone. Ward was often picked on in the red zone, as teams would miss match him with much taller wideouts who could easily out high point him during 50/50 jump balls. Though his footwork and mechanics all really good, he tends to be overly eager to turn and run, leaving himself vulnerable for comeback and corner routes. Once he would commit to turn and run, his recover step when adjusting to a route break was elongated, giving the wideout time to seperate. He could also improve getting his head around more often verse the deep ball.
Denzel Ward is a day one starter in the NFL, due to his size teams could possible consider him a slot corner but he has all the talent to guard the outside, especially against the deep ball. He’s a primarily man-to-man cornerback, but can do it all. He has a willingness to lower his shoulder and attempt to tackle/hit anyone with the ball, which will put him above Josh Jackson in a lot of teams eyes. Depending on the system of the team in need of a corner he will be the first or second corner taken off the board, but shouldn’t make it past the late teens. He should look to add some muscle to his frame but not to the point where it affects his lightning fast quickness. I expect Denzel Ward to go top inside of the top 15, he is far too talented and polished of a corner to not be considered someone’s #1 corner of the future.