Browns’ Denzel Ward named to NFL.com’s All-Under-25 Team
Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward is just getting started.
When he’s been out there for the Cleveland Browns, cornerback Denzel Ward has been a very productive player.
Through three seasons, Ward has been a steady contributor in coverage, and had 18 pass deflections and two interceptions in 2020. In the two seasons, he had 11 pass deflections in each and had five interceptions combined in those, for further context.
Even with there being inconsistency around him from a coverage standpoint, Ward has largely been on-point, and should hopefully be a difference-maker for Cleveland for years to come, too.
Along those lines, the Browns’ budding star corner was recently named to Nick Shook of NFL.com’s All-Under-25 Team, with the Green Bay Packers Jaire Alexander as the other corner, and the Kansas City Chiefs’ L’Jarius Snead as the “flex.”
To that, here was Shook’s rationale for selecting Ward to that squad’s defense heading into the 2021 campaign, based on his 2020 coverage.
"“Ward posted the league’s second-best tight-window rate at 40.5 percent (min. 40 targets), trailing only Jaire Alexander in the category. Known for having — in the words of the inimitable Mike Mayock — oily hips, Ward excels at staying in the hip pocket of pass catchers from snap to whistle. He’s also reliable when it comes to making a play on the ball, leading all qualifying corners in ballhawk rate last season, per Next Gen Stats. If the Browns are smart, Ward will be in Cleveland for a long time.” – Shook, NFL.com"
Ward is hopefully with the Browns for many years to come.
As we’ve touched on, Ward is such a promising young player for the Browns; even with spotty secondary play last season, he was a key bright spot for Cleveland’s secondary. Ronnie Harrison was another, for reference.
In fairness though, there have been some injury absences for Ward, as fans of the Orange and Brown will probably be screaming at me/Shook about in regards to them potentially extending him. That’s a legitimate knock too, and I get it; Ward has missed 11 games of a 48 possible in the regular season in his career so far, with three being in Year 1 and four in Year 2/3.
Albeit his last absence in last year’s regular-season finale and in the Wild Card was due to a positive COVID-19 test, anyhow.
In any case, while I objectively would like to see Ward be out there as much as possible, obviously, like the rest of you, one has to agree that he’s a heck of a player and in today’s league, having corners like him is so important.
And free agency acquisitions in John Johnson III and Troy Hill should definitely help the young star corner moving forward, too, one would imagine. Plus, the likes of first-rounder Greg Newsome II and 2020 second-rounder Grant Delpit, if both can be mostly healthy, could as well.
Anyway, while it clearly wouldn’t be cheap, factoring in how Ward has established himself as one of the NFL’s best corners in a league where passing is the key to winning, typically, he has expressed how he wants to be here for the long haul, and the Browns feeling should be mutual. Shook hit on that too, as we highlighted.
Piggybacking off of the above coverage stats shared by Shook and with opposing passers only having completed 51.2 percent of their passes against Ward thus far lifetime, according to Pro Football Reference, he’s a true rising star.
Hopefully, the 24-year-old Ward is with the Orange and Brown for the foreseeable future, too, to drive that home. Corners like him are anything but a dime a dozen.