Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward picks a good player to emulate
By Randy Gurzi
New Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward is looking to a former Ohio State teammate, Marshon Lattimore, to try and emulate a path to success in the NFL
The Ohio State Buckeyes have turned out some great NFL talent at the cornerback position and the Cleveland Browns hope they just found the next star from there.
With the No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, they selected Denzel Ward. Labeled as a blazing fast corner, Ward excelled in press coverage for the Buckeyes — as did Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore.
If those names sound familiar it’s because they were chosen in the first-round last season with Conley landing with the Raiders and Lattimore with the New Orleans Saints.
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Lattimore was the biggest star of the group and he’s had a huge impact in the league thus far. Ward hopes to follow that blueprint, which could be music to the ears of Browns fans as Lattimore was very good as a rookie.
"“With Lattimore starting as a rookie, New Orleans improved in every pass-defense category, from 4,380 passing yards given up in 2016 to 3,597 in 2017, from 27 touchdown passes to 22, from nine interceptions to 20.According to ProFootballFocus.com, Lattimore was the fourth-ranked corner in the league and the 29th-best player. He allowed opposing quarterbacks a 45.3 passer rating when throwing his way, best among all rookies.” — Pat McManamon and Mike Triplett, ESPN"
Ward has great confidence in himself and he and Lattimore have formed a great friendship. Lattimore even refers to Ward as his son, which makes little sense given they’re just a year apart, but at least it’s a solid player that Ward is looking up to.
The rookie isn’t the only new addition to the secondary in Cleveland. He will be starting alongside E.J. Gaines, who has familiarity with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams defense. There’s also a new safety with the addition of Damarious Randall.
Still, the best bet for the pass defense to improve would be Ward finding a way to emulate the success of his friend.