Cleveland Browns: Top 5 cornerback targets in the 2018 NFL Draft
3. Denzel Ward, Ohio State
It might be a bit of shock that Ohio State’s Denzel Ward is this low on the list. After all, many consider Ward to be the top cornerback in this draft class. While he does have blazing speed and great athletic skill, there are a few concerns.
Ward really only had one full season at cornerback, coming in for the duo of Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore. Ward was tasked with being next in the line of Buckeye cornerbacks in the NFL. Statistically, he did a fine job in 2017.
On the year, he collected 15 defended passes, two interceptions, and 37 total tackles. Denzel’s athleticism is truly tremendous, especially his burst and overall speed. Throughout 2016 and 2017, he only gave up 32-percent completion ratings in coverage.
The major concern when it comes to Ward is his lack of size in coverage. At only 5-foot-10 and 191-pounds, NFL.com’s Lace Zierlein has some concerns about Ward’s height at the next level:
"“Frame is somewhat slight and he feels small in coverage at times.Lacks play strength to jam and disrupt. Appears to avoid route contact so he doesn’t upset coverage balance. Physical receivers can body him around at the top of the route. “"
That could end up being a major problem at the next level. Of course, he will have problems with bigger receivers like Julio Jones and Brandon Marshall. Even closer to average receivers, like the 6-foot-2 Davante Adams, could cause problems for Ward in the NFL.
Ward relies on his speed, and if that fails him at any point in the NFL, he could run into big trouble. Still, his speed is an eye-popping commodity that not many cornerbacks have. If the Browns try to trade up late to get back into round one, they could be going after Ohio’s own Denzel Ward.