Chicago Bears Draft Scout: Denzel Ward

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Is Denzel Ward a top ten pick fit for the Chicago Bears?


Age: 21

School: Ohio State


Denzel Ward is versatile, instinctive and athletic. The combination is deadly. Ward has a great ability to get right up under the wide receivers chin strap while consistently matching his receiver step for step down the field. It is a similar trait to what Marshon Lattimore brought to Ohio State last season.

Below Ward is following his man stride for stride down the field with no help over the top. He forces the quarterback to put the ball into a tiny space and closes well.

Ward has great foot quickness which shows in his abilities to recover and close. Watch below as he chases down his man in space across the field. The cross forces Ward to take an awkward path, but he moves fluidity, finds the ball and winds up forcing an incompletion with his excellent break on the pass.

The ability to recover gives him the confidence to play tight to the line of scrimmage, and also gives him the confidence to bait wide receivers with a step deep. Ward is always playing the comeback or curl routes. He knows that he can recover deep and wants to test quarterbacks in their abilities. In the play below his awareness shows as he reads the receiver, knows the ball is coming and can completely turn his body around for an interception.

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On top of that, he has great technique and fluidity in his footwork. Watch Ward emerge from the bottom right on the play below. He is on that wide receiver step-for-step as he attempts a double move over the middle. He is so smooth in his movements.

Ward is fast, agile, athletic and most important of all terrific at reading wide receivers, understanding concepts and pattern matching.


Ward is a bit undersized by a lot of outside NFL standards. He does have terrific tape in the slot, but the question then becomes how much more valuable is an outside cornerback than a slot option? Is there a chance that the slot is the ceiling for Ward? There have been situations where bigger wide receivers will be able to out muscle and outsize him. It shows up in the red zone, and the team will have to be careful about who exactly he can line up with.

His biggest issues in coverage come from not getting his head back quick enough. As mentioned, he reads receivers well. However, that means exposing his back to the quarterback often, and relying on context clues as to when to turn. In the NFL, if Ward gets his head around too late, he will get called for pass interference. There are also questions with his tackling and defense of the running game. He is active, but his size limits his efforts.