Denzel Ward – Cornerback
Let’s not forget in 2018 the Browns didn’t just pick Mayfield in the first round, they also selected Denzel Ward just three picks later from Ohio State University. Ward was elected to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, but has fought nagging injuries for the last two years and has concussion concerns.
When healthy, Ward is a top-tier corner, even with a few tackling issues. But the biggest reason to wait another year or two before re-signing Ward is the concussions. Not only has he had multiple cases in his first two years in the league, but he also has a bad habit of lowering his head while tackling, leaving him more susceptible for injury in the future.
If Ward can stay on the field for the entire 2020 season and avoid the nagging hamstring injury again, there is no reason to believe he won’t be a Pro Bowler once again. Ward has thrived in zone coverage, as his ability to read the quarterbacks eyes is unbelievable. He also has the athleticism and instincts to play man-to-man against the best wide receivers in the league.
Ward must focus on improving his tackling, but with some coaching, he could turn into a top-five corner in the league. With cornerback being a highly sought-after position in the NFL, waiting for a year or two could drive his market to the $15-17 million per year range, but the Ohio native may be willing to take a little less to win in his home state.
Ward has all the talent and ability in the world, but he must prove he can stay healthy and sustain a long NFL career before backing up the truck of money to him.