Nov 20, 2013; Toledo, OH, USA; Northern Illinois Huskies safety Jimmie Ward (15) warms up before the game against the Toledo Rockets at Glass Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Northern Illinois S Jimmie Ward

Overview:  Time for the hometown hero!  Having played his college ball for NIU, many of you have probably already heard of Jimmie Ward.  The exciting part is that, after reviewing his tape, he might be just the sort of playmaker in the secondary that the Bears so desperately need.  He had a phenomenal senior season in 2013, recording 95 tackles, 10 pass deflections and a whopping 7 interceptions.  Ward was named a third team All-American in 2013 as well as first team All-MAC for the second season in a row.

Strengths:

  • Good timing.  Whether it’s coming off the edge on a blitz or arriving at the same time the ball does, he just seems to get to where he needs to be just when he needs to be there.
  • Plus ball skills.  Played some corner early in his career and it shows.  Snatches the ball out of the air.
  • Energetic.  Visibly enjoys the game of football and is a vocal leader.
  • Explosive athlete.  Hits hard, jumps high; it’s clear that his muscles are built right for football.
  • Good Tackler.  Uses solid form and makes it look easy.
  • Excellent special teamer.  4 blocked punts in his college career.

Weaknesses:

  • Below average build for the position.  Looks more like a cornerback.
  • Slow to diagnose the play.  Doesn’t react well initially and can get caught out of position.
  • Allows some separation at the break.  Has trouble sticking with receivers when they change direction quickly.

NFL Player Comparison: Dashon Goldson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Goldson is a little bigger than Ward, but I think their playing styles are similar.  Both are aggressive, hard hitters with some coverage limitations, but the ball skills to make up for it.  Like Goldson, I also expect Ward to need a year or two of development before he figures it out and plays at a high level.

The Way I See It: I don’t think the Bears will consider Ward in the first round, but there’s a decent chance he makes it to their second pick at 51.  I would have mixed feelings about that pick.  on one hand I do like Jimmie Ward as a prospect and think he could develop into a Pro Bowl caliber player. On the other hand I would be relatively disappointed because I would like the Bears to draft a safety that I think is capable of contributing at a high level immediately.  That having been said, I couldn’t argue too much with the pick because there aren’t a huge number of safeties in this class that could do that.

 

Are there any players you guys would like to see me do a profile on?  Let me know in the comment section.

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Tags: 2014 Nfl Draft Chicago Bears Jimmie Ward

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