5. Denzel Ward, CB
The Browns entered the 2018 NFL Draft with five picks in the first two rounds and wound up with a couple of game-changers. Some of those picks didn't work out as they eventually moved on from Baker Mayfield who they took No. 1 overall and never saw Austin Corbett (No. 33 overall) take off. They also traded down with their fifth pick, which turned into Chad Thomas — another player who didn’t last.
Despite all this, Cleveland hit a home run at No. 4 and No. 35 with Denzel Ward and Nick Chubb. Both have become cornerstones and we’ve seen how valuable Chubb is this year since the offense has struggled without him. Especially in the red zone.
As for Ward, he’s been a solid presence his entire career and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and then returned in 2021. He struggled at times in 2022 while being forced to play more zone coverage but under Jim Schwartz, he’s been an absolute stud.
Ward has been a lockdown corner in man coverage while also showing no fear as a tackler, which is a highly underrated part of his game.
Should his play continue at this level, and there’s nothing to suggest it won’t, Ward should be earning his third Pro Bowl nomination this year.
After seven games, Ward has allowed a quarterback rating of just 64.0 while surrendering a completion percentage under 50 (according to Pro Football Reference ). He’s also broken up seven passes while recording one interception.