While Ward's relative lack of size may hurt him in the NFL, he'll more than make up for it with his athletic ability and technique. Ward is at his best when playing press coverage, because he can use his quick-twitch reflexes in concert with his fundamentals to lock down most receivers. Quarterbacks looking to pick on this rookie might figure out they're better off finding a veteran to go after. His future defensive coordinator will also gain a versatile performer. At times in 2017, Ward took successful turns as a slot cornerback, helping the Buckeyes better contain tight ends.
If Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick is the top-ranked cornerback in this draft class, Ward is an equally solid No. 2, and some teams evaluating Fitzpatrick as a safety will put Ward above Fitzpatrick. He'll never be able to do anything about being 5-11, and he isn't the guy if you want a cornerback who can support the run, but Ward is a freakish athlete.
No corner in the draft can match his pure explosive athleticism, vertical or broad jump, qualities which will appeal to an NFL team measuring Ward as a lockdown cornerback. While Ward only picked off two passes in his Ohio State career, his coverage skills and confidence could make him a top 10 overall pick.
--Field Level Media
Career Defensive Stats
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