Data Scout Notes: 2017: 12-29-17- Announced Early Entry into 2018 NFL Draft/Skipping Bowl Game...2ndC...PBednarik...2016: NAC...2015: NAC/NAM
*Denzel Ward/Ohio State football Videos
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12/29/17:Denzel Ward -- rated by NFLDraftScout as the No. 23 overall prospect for the 2018 draft, skipped Friday night's Cotton Bowl matchup against USC in order to avoid potential injury. Ward practiced with the Buckeyes leading up to the bowl game, with coaches knowing he would make a game-day decision, according to a statement from the school. Ward was on the sideline during the game. "This was a very difficult decision that I ultimately had to make," Ward wrote on social media. "But at the end of the day, I feel this is the best decision for my family and I. I had countless conversations with my coaches about this decision well before the game." -- Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com
=== 12/17/17 - 2017 ALL-BIG TEN SECOND TEAM (COACHES): DB Denzel Ward, Ohio State,...Ward, like Bosa a first-year starter for the Buckeyes, has the third-most passes defended in the Big Ten – 14; 13 pass break-ups and one interception – while also contributing 34 tackles and two critical blocked kicks: a punt in the win over Penn State and an extra point in the win last week over Michigan.
A two-year starter at Ohio State, Ward came off the bench in 2016, but he was basically a sophomore starter (along with Lattimore and Conley) before becoming Ohio State’s top corner in 2017, playing primarily left cornerback in the Buckeyes’ press-quarters man scheme – also saw snaps at right corner and in the slot with the Buckeyes’ issues covering tight ends in the second half of the 2017 season.
Speed demon with twitchy athleticism, Ward competes with the balance, patience and movement skills to mirror receivers in press coverage, also showing a decisive reactor to make plays on the ball. His lack of size, length and build immediately stand out, but he plays such tight coverage on film that it usually must be a perfect throw to complete the pass. Overall, Ward’s lack of inches shows at times in coverage and as a run defender, but he is a premier athlete with the budding instincts and required toughness to be trusted vs. NFL receivers on an island, either on the outside or in the slot – a top-three cornerback prospect in this class.
BACKGROUND A three-star cornerback recruit out of high school, Denzel Ward helped lead Nordonia to the Division-II state championship game his senior year as an explosive two-way player with nine interceptions and 20 total touchdowns – also a standout in track, winning the 2015 state title in the 200-meters (21.65). He received offers from programs like Cincinnati and Bowling Green, but he shut down his recruitment the moment Ohio State extended an offer.
Ward was a regular on special teams (175 of his 196 snaps in 2015) as a true freshman before working himself into the cornerback rotation as a sophomore behind starters Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley. He didn’t register a start in 2016, but played starting-caliber snaps on defense (468), finishing with 23 tackles and nine pass break-ups.
With Lattimore and Conley off to the NFL (both first rounders in the 2017 NFL Draft), Ward moved to the top of the Buckeyes’ cornerback depth chart for his junior season and led the team with 16 passes defended, earning First Team All-Big Ten and All-American honors.
STRENGTHS Quick-twitch athlete with explosive movements in any direction. Owns track speed with immediate acceleration to close gaps – the “fastest guy” at Ohio State during the Urban Meyer era, according to OSU strength and conditioning coach Mikey Marotti. Sudden, but composed with swivel hips and velvet feet to stay in phase with elusive receivers.
Quick trigger once he sinks to click-and-close. Lower body muscles to spring, leap and burst. Football intelligence grows with every snap, learning and recognizing routes quicker. Plays the catch point well with his back turned to the quarterback – quick hands and judgement to disrupt. Looks to jab in press coverage. Stings in run support, lowering his pads and arriving with purpose.
Better core strength and toughness than most his size. Utilizes his speed on special teams, blocking a punt vs. Penn State (Oct. 2017) and an extra point at Michigan (Nov. 2017). Quiet, humble individual, but strong competitive spirit – wears jersey No. 12, the same number his father (Paul, who died in 2016 of cardiac arrest) wore in high school. Coachable and worked hard to add nearly 60 pounds the last five years, developing his muscle tone. – Dane Brugler 12/12/2017
WEAKNESSES Lacks ideal height and length for the outside, creating mismatch issues vs. bigger targets. Works hard in the weight room, but lacks ideal bulk and limb strength. Bad habit of grabbing cloth at the line of scrimmage or near the top of routes.
Plays well with his back to the ball, but needs to do a better job turning his head to locate, which is one of the reasons he collected only two career interceptions. Improved jam technique, but still requires fundamental work in press coverage.
Occasionally plays small as a run defender due to average finishing strength, letting ballcarriers out of his grasp. Wild tackling angles, overpursuing targets. Sticks to blockers on the perimeter with his lack of ideal size/strength limiting his ability to shed. – Dane Brugler 12/12/17
COMPARES TO: Jason Verrett, Los Angeles Chargers - Size and length will never be the strengths for Verrett or Ward, but they both have the twitchy athleticism, ball awareness and toughness that stands out and helps evaluators overlook the lack of stature.
IN OUR VIEW: Ward's lack of inches shows at times in coverage and as a run defender, but he is a premier athlete with the budding instincts and required toughness to be trusted vs. NFL receivers on an island, either on the outside or in the slot. He is one of the top-three cornerbacks in this draft class.
12/29/17: Ward skipped Friday night's Cotton Bowl matchup against USC in order to avoid potential injury. Ward practiced with the Buckeyes leading up to the bowl game, with coaches knowing he would make a game-day decision, according to a statement from the school. Ward was on the sideline during the game.
== His most productive year. In 13 regular season games he made 37 total tackle, including 2 TFL and defended 15 passes, intercepting 2.
Ward was a first-team All-American on three of the five teams the NCAA uses to determine its consensus and unanimous All-American teams: Associated Press, The Sporting News and AFCA.
Ward was part of a cornerback rotation that featured two first-round draft picks at the end of the season … he played in all 13 games and tied for the team lead with Marshon Lattimore with nine pass break-ups … was also in on 23 tackles … he had prolific numbers of plays on defense in Ohio State’s biggest games: 56 vs. Oklahoma, 50 vs. Penn State, 38 vs. Michigan and 62 vs. Clemson.
2015 Season: (Freshman): Ward was one of only four scholarship freshman to get playing time for the Buckeyes this season …he was a key special teams performer who played in 12 games
he totaled 196 plays on the season with 175 of those on special teams … he was clocked running 21.8 miles per hour on special teams coverage in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame … he was one of the top tacklers on special teams with seven total stops.
Nordoniua High School, Macedonia, Ohio. Ward helped lead Nordonia to a 14-1 record and the Division II state championship game in 2014 by starring on defense with nine interceptions and 18 pass break-ups and on offense with more than 1,300 total yards and 20 touchdowns.
Named the Division II co-defensive player of the year and a first-team Associated Press all-state selection for coach Jeff Fox … also named Cleveland.com’s defensive player of the year … totaled 14 interceptions in 2013 and 2014 combined plus had 93 receptions and 31 receiving touchdowns … rated a 4-star prospect by Scout and 247Sports and was ranked respectively by those organizations as the Nos. 22 and 26 cornerback prospect.
Rated as high as No. 171 among all players by Scout … a PrepStar all-Midwest Region …caught 37 passes for 658 yards and nine touchdowns for 8-3 team as a junior … possesses tremendous speed – including published reports of a hand-timed 4.31 40 – and is a multiple state qualifier in track and field as part of Nordonia’s 4x400-meter relay and as a long jumper.
Is the son of Nicole and the late Paul Ward.
Draft Scout Player News
12/30/17 - Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward escalated the trend of top NFL prospects sitting out bowl games when he skipped Friday night's Cotton Bowl matchup against USC in order to avoid potential injury. Ward, a junior who will enter the 2018 NFL Draft, was one of two projected first-rounders who chose not to play Friday. North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb sat out his team's victory over Arizona State in the Sun Bowl. Ward practiced with the Buckeyes leading up to the bowl game, with coaches knowing he would make a game-day decision, according to a statement from the school. Ward was on the sideline during the game. "This was a very difficult decision that I ultimately had to make," Ward wrote on social media. "But at the end of the day, I feel this is the best decision for my family and I. I had countless conversations with my coaches about this decision well before the game."
What began as a trickle last season -- Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and LSU's Leonard Fournette sat out their respective bowl games -- has turned into a wave this season. Not only are more prospects bypassing the postseason, but doing so in bigger bowls, such as the Cotton, where the No. 5 Buckeyes played the No. 8 Trojans. NFLDraftScout.com rates Ward as the 23rd-best overall prospect. Chubb is No. 5. Other likely first-rounders who did not play in this postseason are Florida State safety Derwin James (Independence Bowl) and Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams (Texas Bowl). "Me and my family sat down and felt for me it was best not to play in this game," Chubb said in the Raleigh News & Observer. "I gave my all to this university for four years. I feel like one game doesn't define who I am as a person or a player. - The Sports Xchange
12/17/17 - 2017 ALL-BIG TEN SECOND TEAM (COACHES): DB Denzel Ward, Ohio State,...Ward, like Bosa a first-year starter for the Buckeyes, has the third-most passes defended in the Big Ten – 14; 13 pass break-ups and one interception – while also contributing 34 tackles and two critical blocked kicks: a punt in the win over Penn State and an extra point in the win last week over Michigan. Ward is from Macedonia, Ohio. - Ohio State Football
08/29/17 - CB Denzel Ward could be Ohio State's next first-round draft pick at cornerback. The Buckeyes have produced four first-rounders at the position in the past four years. The junior has playing experience and more speed than any player on the roster. Ward and the Ohio State secondary will be tested in the opener by Indiana's pass offense led by quarterback Richard Lagow.
07/10/17 - 2017 Preseason Bednarik Award Watchlist: CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State,...Did not start a game in 2016, but he lined up on defense for 468 plays as part of a three-man cornerback rotation that also featured two 2017 first-round NFL Draft picks: Marshon Lattimore (No. 11 to New Orleans) and Gareon Conley (No. 24 to Oakland). Named honorable mention all-Big Ten, Ward tied for the team lead with Lattimore with nine pass break-ups last season. - Ohio State Football