Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward graded as AFC North’s best cornerback
Browns cornerback Denzel Ward had a terrific rookie season before the injury bug hit. With freaky speed and a ton of potential as a man on man cornerback, Pro Football Focus graded Ward as the AFC North’s best cornerback in 2018.
The Cleveland Browns nailed the 2018 NFL Draft. From Baker Mayfield at No. 1 overall, to running back Nick Chubb in the second round, to Genard Avery as a fifth-round steal, the Browns secured pieces all over the field. And on top of all that, they locked up a top cornerback in Denzel Ward at the No. 4 overall spot.
Ward secured two interceptions in his first game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, immediately endearing himself to the Browns fanbase. He jumped out as an early favorite for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, and although he didn’t win the hardware, he firmly cemented himself in the Browns’ secondary lineup.
Ward’s fantastic rookie season turned some heads in NFL circles. Although he never had the gross numbers of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard, or the pure star power of Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James, he was still seen as one of the NFL’s best young defenders. Pro Football Focus agrees, considering that they graded Denzel Ward as the AFC North’s best cornerback, receiving a grade of 79.0.
Seeing Browns players at the top of any PFF list is just so refreshing. And to see a cornerback, one of the most important positions in football, at the top of the AFC North has to be vindicating for Browns fans to see. Ward is one of the most talented young cornerbacks in the game, and those who set the NFL’s premier ranking system seem to agree.
The Browns are set up at the game’s most important positions for years to come. Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb have gotten a lot of love this offseason, but Denzel Ward deserves just as much appreciation for being an absolute defensive stud on the back line.
If Myles Garrett is the premier player for the Browns’ front seven, Denzel Ward is the premier player of the Browns’ secondary, and that’s a luxury that is oh, so nice to have.