Bears Draft Preview: Ohio St.’s Denzel Ward Could Be Worthy Of Starring Role

Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and the NFL for WARR; Each week leading up to the NFL Draft (April 26-28), Ryan and Ken Davis from “The D & Davis Show” will offer a scouting report on possible targets for the Bears at No. 8 in the first round

Chicago Bears fans, free agency is still on going but the Bears have pretty much spent all of their cash capital at this point, which means the draft can’t come soon enough.

Over the next few weeks weareregalradio.com will highlight a potential prospect that the Bears may select at number eight (or elsewhere should they not stay at that position) and why they fit with what the Bears are doing. Up first on our list is the player most see as the second best defensive back prospect in the draft — Denzel Ward of Ohio State.

Combine results:

  • 40 yard dash – 4.32 (Tied first out of all corners)
  • Bench press – 16 (Tied fifth out of all corners)
  • Vert Jump – 39.0 (Tied second out of all corners)
  • Broad Jump – 11’4” (First out of all corners)
  • 3 cone drill – Did not participate
  • 20 yard shuttle – Did not participate
  • 60 yard shuttle – Did not participate

Strengths:

  • Considered to be a true cover corner with a lot of athleticism
  • Ballhawk, sudden hands and attacks the ball
  • Good in his back pedal and mirrors well, waiting as late as possible to open hips
  • Really good and sound in his footwork

Weaknesses:

  • Lacks size in frame and height
  • Needs to work on disengaging blockers to be effective in run defense
  • Needs to improve on being more physical at the point of attack
  • Lack of height is can be an issue when making plays on the ball in pass defense

Bottom Line:

Denzel Ward has gained a lot of comparisons to Chris Harris Jr. of the Denver Broncos. Ward has questions marks because of his size but had he been a couple inches taller and a slightly bigger frame then Ward might be considered the best defensive back in the draft. Ward has the potential to be a big playmaker even if its just at nickel, and every team spends most of their time in nickel to match the opposing offense’s personnel in today’s NFL. If Ward can be a similar player to Chris Harris Jr., then whoever gets him is getting a playmaking defensive back.

Fit with the Bears:

The Bears statistically had a good pass defense last year. By signing Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara back, it seems like the pass defense should be good again next year. Couple thoughts to keep in mind if Ward is the selection by the Bears at eight, the Bears may not have Bryce Callahan at that point, as he has still not re-signed.

Another thought to keep in mind, the Bears pass rush right now does not look as good as last year. One other thought, if Ward is the Bear’s selection then the Bears, presently, would only have one pick on day two to get a pass rusher before trying to dress the issue on Day 3. Its hard to find day three starters that can play immediately, therefore adding another corner in Ward would give the Bears a trio of good cover corners and take pressure off the pass rush.

Ward’s only real question mark is his size but he projects easily as a nickel. Even if Callahan is re-signed, Callahan has not been on the field much and has routinely been sidelined with injuries. The Bears will likely have to add a corner through the draft anyways, even just for more depth.

There is also reason to believe that Ward will not struggle on the outside because of his size and in that case, imagine what Vic Fangio could do with a lockdown corner that can be left on an island. The Bears can make a bunch of selections at number eight that would make a lot of sense, on weareregalradio.com, we will be giving you most of those names. So if the selection is Ward, Bears fans be excited about what possibilities this secondary could have.

Ken’s Second Opinion

With free agency pickups headlined by young and capable receivers (Allan Robinson, Taylor Gabriel) and a tight end (Trey Burton), the Chicago Bears have focused on fixing their offensive pass game in free agency this off-season.

Anyone who has watched Chicago’s offensive side of the ball the past couple of seasons fully understands why the Bears front office has spent a bulk of free agency dollars in said fashion, but in the draft, outside of maybe a mid-1st round wide receiver or running back or an offensive lineman somewhere in the first three rounds, the team needs to focus on improving the defense. An edge rushing outside linebacker to pair with Leonard Floyd would be my main preference, however a top of the line ball hawk in the defensive backfield would be a welcome asset to a team that only took away two interceptions between their starting corner backs in 2017.

Ohio State’s Denzel Ward has been connected to the Bears on many mock drafts, which is a positive development seeing as OSU has become CornerbackU over the last ten to fifteen years, so it is easy to surmise Ward has the proper pedigree to get it down in the NFL.

For the most part Ward uses the hard to learn and preform mirror and match technique. To pull this off a corner back must be very agile and confident in his ball recognition. Some draft experts have compared Ward to former Buffalo Bill, and fellow Buckeye, corner back Antoine Winfield. Like Ward, Winfield is slightly smaller than today’s prototypical corners, yet both demonstrate a penchant to deliver strong blows seldom seen by slender DBs.

While I like Ward, my preference at that position today would be for the Bears to select Iowa’s Josh Jackson, who led the nation with eight interceptions this past collegiate season. Some would say Jackson is a one season wonder and I would not whole heartily dismiss that opinion, but Jackson has nice height (6-foot-1) and was a heralded receiver at the high school level in Texas, since then he’s retained a knack for collecting the ball that has only enhanced his position as a defender.

One last caveat on Jackson — it would be a jump for the Bears to take him at eighth overall when he’s been mostly listed as a late Day 1, early Day 2 prospect.

Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanbski and Ken @ThatsDavis; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio

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4 responses to “Bears Draft Preview: Ohio St.’s Denzel Ward Could Be Worthy Of Starring Role

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