2018 Raiders Prospect Profile
Name: Denzel Ward
School: Ohio State University
Weight: 190 pounds
Round Projection: 1
Do not be fooled by the lack of interceptions in Denzel Ward’s career (two in 2017); the former Buckeye is terrific in man or zone coverage. In addition, Ward has tremendous ball skills and moves great when the football is in the air. Ward plays wonderful in space and recognizes routes well. The 2017 AP All-American continued the great tradition of stout corners for Ohio State this past season.
Ward has great explosion out of his breaks and has plenty of speed to keep up with the quick slot receiver. Very rarely was Ward burned on a route and blanketed opposing wide receivers all year long. The Ohio State corner has tremendous timing on the ball as well. For one thing, he broke up 15 passes in 2017. In essence, Ward is extremely athletic as well.
Although not as physical as Josh Jackson or some of the other “bigger” corners in the draft, Ward uses his quickness and agility to get to the ball carrier for the tackle. Nevertheless, do not expect him to be a stopper often. With this in mind, Ward does have the frame to add some more muscle at the next level.
Of course, the only big negative to Ward’s game is something that he has no control over. Listed at 5’10, it is will be interesting to see what his measureables are at the combine. If you are looking at pure talent, Ward is a top 15 pick. On the contrary, his lack of size could scare some teams away and push him back in the first round.
No reason to believe that 2017 first round pick Gareon Conley will not step in as the #1 corner this season for Oakland. Therefore, the pressure for Ward to come in and lock down the opposing team’s number one wide receiver is not needed. Moreover, what Ward can do is mirror a Tyreek Hill type player and helps the Raiders defense avoid the gut wrenching long touchdown receptions it has given up in the past. If General Manager Reggie McKenzie is able to trade back with a team like either Buffalo, snagging up Ward with the 21st or 22ndpick would be ideal.