2. Denzel Ward, Cornerback
Just like the aforementioned J.C. Tretter, this potential step backward as a player could have more to do with durability than ability. Denzel Ward was the No. 4 overall pick out of Ohio State in 2018, just a few picks after they added Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick.
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Ward was willing to rise to the challenge of proving to be worth the top-five selection and in his first game, he showed out. Facing Antonio Brown before he went off the rails, Ward held his own as Cleveland battled Pittsburgh to a tie. He was awarded the NFL Rookie of the Week Award after registering six tackled, three pass defenses, and two interceptions.
He continued his strong rookie season with a Week 5 Rookie of the Week Award as well, which helped him make the Pro Bowl as a rookie. The only problem was he missed three games due to concussions.
Then in 2019, he and fellow cornerback Greedy Williams both struggled to get on the field due to hamstring issues. Ward played in Week 1 and Week 2 but then wasn’t seen again until Week 7. He also had an ankle injury near the end of the season which didn’t force him to miss any more games but is an issue.
It’s been said in the past that the best ability is durability and if Ward can’t stay at healthy, it’s going to be hard to go toe-to-toe with the best wideouts in the game, which is what Cleveland asks him to do each and every weekend.