Cleveland Browns Draft Bullseye No. 3: Denzel Ward
There is no denying that cornerback is a premium position in the NFL. If you were to prioritize positional importance when building the core of a roster, cornerback would easily be considered a top-four necessity.
In 2018, the Browns had two selections in the top four picks of the NFL draft. Obviously, priority number one was finding a quarterback, but with their second selection there were several directions that they could have gone. The Browns made the decision to make Denzel Ward, not only the first cornerback selected but, the first defensive player to be selected in the draft.
Ward, who was also one of the youngest players in the draft, hit the ground running for the Browns and was a starter from day one. In fact, in his first game in the NFL, Ward picked off Ben Roethlisberger twice. There’s probably not a better way a player could ingratiate themselves to a fanbase. By season’s end, Ward was unequivocally the best player in the Browns secondary.
Since his rookie year Ward has proven to be worthy of the CB1 designation the franchise has bestowed on him. Through four seasons Ward has been named to the Pro Bowl twice and is widely considered a top five player at his position. Andrew Berry and the Browns rewarded ‘the Warden’ by making him the highest paid cornerback in the NFL last week.
In Denzel Ward, the Browns have a top-flight lockdown corner who is just entering the prime of his career. The recently signed contract extension puts Ward in Cleveland until the age of 30, thus ensuring the Browns have one of their defensive cornerstones locked down through the prime of their career.