For the second straight year, the top cornerback prospect in the NFL Draft hails from Ohio State as Denzel Ward follows in Marshon Lattimore’s footsteps.
Last year, the New Orleans Saints got the steal of the first round when they took the top cornerback prospect, Marshon Lattimore with the No. 11 pick. Lattimore tore it up during his time at Ohio State and was my No. 3 prospect in the draft. He proved to be a great pick right away, winning the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Ohio State has turned out a number of great pros in recent years under Urban Meyer, including but not limited to Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott who also took home Rookie of the Year honors. Could history repeat itself this year with another Buckeye stealing the show as a rookie?
Cornerback Denzel Ward is my top cornerback in the draft after what he did at Ohio State and here’s what I think he’ll bring to the NFL team that drafts him.
Denzel Ward, Ohio State, Cornerback
The 5-11, 183-pound Ward is athletically gifted. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be such a coveted prospect. But he’s more than a great athlete playing cornerback. Ward combines flawless footwork and technique to make it tough for receivers to get open.
He’s also well-coached from his three years under Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs so he should be able to handle complex coverages and multiple positions. NFL teams shouldn’t take that lightly. Getting players who are well-coached at big programs like Ohio State don’t get a culture shock at the next level.
Ward can mirror-and-match with the quickest and most elusive receivers. He can play press coverage and he has the acceleration, fluid hips and the long speed to close on passes to break up haul in interceptions.
He may have to begin his career as a nickel cornerback where his lack of playing strength can be minimized. Eventually, Ward should move to the perimeter and develop into a No. 1 cornerback in the mold of Josh Norman and Chris Harris, Jr. He may not have the ceiling of Lattimore but should contend for Pro Bowls during his prime.
Draft Projection: Top 12