Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Draft Prospect Outlook:
Feisty man-to-man outside cornerback with blazing speed. Better in man than zone and lacks ideal outside cornerback size. Makes plenty of plays on the football though awareness can be lacking at time. Enforces his will on crossing routes. Should be early first-round pick.
When Ward committed to Ohio State prior to his senior season in high school, the Macedonia (Nordonia), Ohio, cornerback was an unheralded three-star recruit. He then had a stellar senior season and was eventually bumped up to a four-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite (No. 26 corner nationally, No. 270 overall). Ward mainly played on special teams as a true freshman for the Buckeyes in 2015 and quickly made a name for himself as one of the fastest players on the roster.
As a sophomore in 2016, Ward was part of a three-man cornerback rotation that included future first-round draft picks Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley. The fact that Ward played as many snaps as Lattimore and Conley said a lot about how OSU's coaches felt about him. Then as a junior in 2017, Ward had his breakout season and was named first-team All-American by the Associated Press. Ward decided to declare for the NFL draft and chose not to play in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl against USC to prevent injury. - Dave Biddle, Bucknuts