Broncos Gab 2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Ohio State CB Denzel Ward

Cornerbacks are always in high demand come draft night, and this year the 2018 draft will be no exception. One player that likely won’t last long is that of Ohio State Buckeyes CB Denzel Ward, a player who is quickly climbing the charts.

Ward is coming off a tremendous combine, and is known by many as the top CB in this year’s draft class. Here’s our official look at Ward and what he’ll bring to the table to the lucky team that grabs him this year in round one.

Here’s a Scouting Report from


OSU cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs told reporters last spring that Ward was a “gifted player” and truly a “third starter” at cornerback, joining 2017 first-round picks Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley. Ward proved his coach correct, earning first-team All-American and all-conference accolades in 2017 with 37 tackles, two for loss, two interceptions, and 15 pass breakups (ranked in the top 10 in the nation). He earned honorable mention All-Big Ten notice from league media as a non-starter in 2016, playing 30 snaps a game on defense. Ward tied Lattimore for the team lead with nine pass breakups on the year (23 tackles), never giving up on a play and being quite physical despite his average size for the position. Ward got onto the field as a true freshman, making seven tackles, primarily on special teams. Ward was a first-team All-Ohio pick and Division II Co-Defensive Player of the Year as a high school senior (nine interceptions, 18 pass breakups). He also qualified for the state track meet as a long jumper and part of the 4×400 relay.


Strengths Supreme athletic ability. Expected to be impressive Combine tester. Can park in a deep squat under wide receiver’s chin at the line. Patient from press showing no panic or hurry in initial movements. Can pedal and mirror for a long time without opening hips. Tremendously gifted footwork. Mirrors and matches with good balance throughout the route. Matches changing route speed stride for stride. Plays from low side of route to take away comebacks. Uses big burst for recovery and closeouts. Carries true long speed down the field. Reads clues from off-man. Reads slants and drives in front of the route in search of an interception. Allowed just over 32 percent completions over last two years. Ballhawk with sudden hands to attack the throw. Bats throws down and will swirl arms around the catch point to prevent target from finishing the catch.


Frame is somewhat slight and he feels small in coverage at times. Lacks play strength to jam and disrupt. Appears to avoid route contact so he doesn’t upset coverage balance. Physical receivers can body him around at the top of the route. Needs to turn and find football sooner with back to the ball. Always around the throw, but lack of size and length shows up with “just misses” in pass defense. Several pass breakups came on throws with poor placement. Coverage benefitted from deep, talented rush unit up front. Has issues disengaging from big blocking receivers. Big backs drag him for a ride in run support.

Draft Projection Round 1

NFL Comparison Chris Harris Jr.

Chat Sports takes a look at Ward:

The cocky cornerback was a monster in the Big 10 this year, racking up 15 pass deflections and a pick while completely locking down one half of the field. He’s electric, smart, and will be bonafide #1 CB in the NFL. Despite his lack of size, he’s a very physical corner and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He should be one of the first 10 picks in the upcoming NFL draft, but the only question for Ward at this point is what team he’s going to dominate on.


-Absurdly quick
-Excellent ball skills
-Has the swagger you want in a CB
-Big hitter
-Good blitzer when needed
-Very smart player


-Will struggle against physical receivers
-Not the most willing tackler
-Too timid in the run game
-Get blocked out of plays too easy
-Bigger WRs eat him up

Player Comparison: Chris Harris Jr.

NFL Draft Grade: 1st Round (#2 CB)

Projected Round: 1st

The Drafster on Ward:

Ohio State
Cornerback #12
Junior, 5’10” 191 pounds


Long and lean with the athleticism handle duties in the slot and along the perimeter
Production a product of his aggressive, competitive nature when the ball’s in the air
Easy mover with fluid movement skills, equal feet and loose hips that serve as catalysts for his ability to consistently mirror releases with ease
Elite burst and closing burst are evident when transitioning from his pedal to his downhill pursuit
Brings a battle to the catch-point with impressive savvy to directly play through pass-catcher’s hands
Plants himself in receivers’ pockets and remains in-phase down the field to consistently keep him in position to make a play
Understands how his responsibilities work in space and how to utilize leverage to generate turnovers when trailing
Springy leaper who times his attempts on throws with optimal timing


Frame is on the thinner side with room for further development
Timing remains a noticeable issue when getting his head around and locating the ball
Can transfer power through contact when he has space, but physicality as a run defender runs thin
Lack of overall girth has served as a hindrance when pressing and jamming bigger receivers
Requires further refinement when connecting his hands and feet to defend releases without panicking and grabbing in man
Has become reliant on explosion out of breaks to compensate for excessive steps

Pro comp: Jason Verrett

Draft projection: 1st Round

In a class of top-end talented corners, Ward is a name to stash away. He continues the recent run of impressive Buckeye corners that have been early selections and offer a potentially lengthy NFL career. Although he isn’t a physical specimen and is underwhelming size intensifies battles with receivers with the build advantage, Ward is supremely athletic and technically savvy to a degree that unquestionably warrants a first round selection. He can operate on both sides of the field and in the slot, increasing his value when considering his skill set that can succeed from a number of different coverage schemes. Ward has what it takes to find success in the league for a number of years.

Here’s the College Bio Page on Ward.

Some Quotes on Ward from


“Ward wasn’t high enough on my radar early in the year, but I went back and watched some tape from this season — and boy was I impressed. Spending last season behind Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley (all 2017 first-round picks), he didn’t get much playing time, but he has elite fluidity, quickness and recovery speed. He has closed the gap with Fitzpatrick and had 15 passes broken up (Fitzpatrick had eight).”


“Quick-twitch athlete with explosive movements in any direction. Owns track speed with immediate acceleration to close gaps – the ‘fastest guy’ at Ohio State during the Urban Meyer era, according to OSU strength and conditioning coach Mikey Marotti. Sudden, but composed with swivel hips and velvet feet to stay in phase with elusive receivers.

“Lacks ideal height and length for the outside, creating mismatch issues vs. bigger targets. Works hard in the weight room, but lacks ideal bulk and limb strength. Bad habit of grabbing cloth at the line of scrimmage or near the top of routes. Ward’s lack of inches shows at times in coverage and as a run defender, but he is a premier athlete with the budding instincts and required toughness to be trusted vs. NFL receivers on an island, either on the outside or in the slot. He is one of the top-three cornerbacks in this draft class.”

Free Agent CB Delvin Breaux Leaves the Broncos Without a Deal

It appears despite earlier reports that a deal was near that the Broncos and free agent cornerback Delvin Breaux are not close enough to keep him in the building, as he’s left the facility in Denver according to Mike Klis of 9News.

Breaux had a big 2015 with three interceptions, but the last two seasons ended with a broken fibula.

For now he will visit other teams according to reports.

LB Todd Davis Re-Signs with the Broncos with a Three-Year Deal

After diving into free agency to sign quarterback Case Keenum, the Broncos gave some attention to the defense Wednesday, Jeff Legwold of ESPN reports.

Linebacker Todd Davis, 25, re-signed with the Broncos on a three-year deal that could be worth up to $15 million, a source confirmed. Davis, who was claimed off waivers from the New Orleans Saints in 2014, was one of Denver’s most prominent unrestricted free agents.

The NFL Network earlier reported news of Davis’ deal.

John Elway, Denver’s president of football operations and general manager, said at the scouting combine that the Broncos hoped to re-sign Davis, but that he also expected Davis to see what kind of interest there was elsewhere in the league. The Broncos’ offer turned out to be the one Davis chose.

Broncos Set to Move QB Trevor Siemian to Minnesota

The Broncos have given up on quarterback Trevor Siemian, as reports the Vikings are making a move with Denver for him to make the move from Denver to Minnesota.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday the Vikings are finalizing a trade with the Denver Broncos for quarterback Trevor Siemian. Rapoport reported the deal is in the advanced stages, and the early indications are the Vikings will send a late-round pick to Denver.

Siemian provides the Vikes with a backup once they lock down the Kirk Cousins deal, which is expected to be finalized Thursday. Cousins is heading to Minnesota for a visit Wednesday night.

Siemian will provide experience behind Cousins after starting 24 games the past two seasons in Denver, compiling 30 touchdown passes, 24 interceptions and a 59.3 completion percentage. The former seventh-round pick doesn’t boast the tools that get scouts drooling, but proved he can move the offense when protected.

Broncos Land Their QB – To Ink Vikings Free Agent QB Case Keenum

The Broncos couldn’t land Kirk Cousins, the apple of their eye when it came to free agent quarterbacks, so they went after a guy who took his team to the Conference Title game in the NFC – and it appears they’ve landed Vikings free agent quarterback Case Keenum.

He played for coaches Vance Joseph and Gary Kubiak in Houston at the beginning of his career (2012-13) and already has a feel for the staff and offensive system. Keenum guided the Vikings to recent success in the playoffs — an experience Cousins still lacks after six years in the NFL. And he comes at a cost that affords the Broncos more flexibility in reshaping their roster and adding to it in the upcoming draft. His new deal is expected to be a shorter-term contract, with approximately $18 million per year in average pay.

“We all understand how the quarterback position has a direct influence on how your team plays,” Joseph said in February. “Obviously, we have to get better there, whoever is going to be the quarterback. That being said, we can get better in a lot of areas, like protecting the quarterback, continuing to run the football better and to play dominant defense. Having a quarterback that can help us become a more efficient offense and help us score more points and not turn the ball over, that can only help us get better. But we have to focus not only on that, but also on other parts of the football team.”

It was a breakout year for Keenum, as he hit for a career-high 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns and only seven interceptions for the Vikings, getting all the way to the NFC Title game before falling to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Broncos Willing to Listen to Offers for Running Back C.J. Anderson

Broncos general manager John Elway hedged during the NFL combine, leaving the door open for both C.J. Anderson’s return and his possible exit from Denver. The former undrafted running back who earned a starting role in 2014 and last year became the franchise’s first 1,000-yard rusher since ’13, was on the edge. And even he knew it.

The four-year contract he signed in 2016 has no guaranteed money remaining in the final two years, meaning the team could release him without paying a single penny. In fact, they’d save $4.5 million in cap space in an offseason they sorely need the extra room to acquire veteran talent. Especially a quarterback, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post reports.

But the Broncos are in no rush to move on from Anderson. According to an NFL source, the team has no plans to release the veteran back but is listening to trade offers and believes it could get something in return, much like it did with veteran cornerback Aqib Talib.

In 2016, the Broncos placed a low-round restricted free agent tender on Anderson that afforded the team the right to match any offer sheet he signed, but provided them no draft compensation if it chose to let him walk. When Anderson signed a four-year, $18 million offer sheet with the Dolphins, the Broncos matched at the 11th hour, thanks in large part to the departure of quarterback Brock Osweiler. In 2018 and 2019, Anderson has base salaries of $4.4 million and can earn $100,000 workout bonuses each year.

Should the Broncos look to move Anderson, one team that has come up regularly as a potential fit for him is Miami, the same team that tried to sign him two years ago. Anderson is close with head coach Adam Gase, formerly the Broncos’ offensive coordinator, and the Dolphins recently signed Eric Studesville to coach their running backs. Studesville, to the dismay of Anderson, was among the six coaches fired by the Broncos this offseason.

Did QB Kirk Cousins Give Away His Two Team Choices in a Blog Post?

Kirk Cousins is officially moving on, but his next destination remains unknown, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post reports.

The free-agent quarterback penned a lengthy blog post on Monday, the start of the NFL’s legal tampering period, to thank the Redskins and their fans, as well as former head coach Mike Shanahan.

“Knowing I will not be putting on a Redskins jersey next season, it’s hard to look back at all that’s taken place and not become emotional,” Cousins wrote on his website. “I will forever be grateful to Mike Shanahan for taking a chance on me in the 2012 draft. At the time, many people saw his selection as foolish. Time proved otherwise and taught me that there are no guarantees in this business — if you work hard and learn from your mistakes, good things can happen. For the first time in 11 years I will participate in choosing where I play. Having said this, I would not trade the past decade for anything.”

But at the bottom of his blog post, Cousins might have revealed his top choices for his next team. When it was initially published, “Jets” and “Vikings” were among the keywords tagged at the bottom. They have since been removed.

The Broncos have long been considered to be on the short list of options for Cousins, along with the Jets and Vikings and Cardinals. But a definitive group of targeted teams has never been revealed by Cousins or his agent.

Broncos Could Have Interest in Vikings QB Case Keenum as Backup Plan

The Broncos are “interested in” free agent quarterback Case Keenum according to Mike Klis of 9News in Denver.

Keenum is viewed as a secondary option to Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins but, with Cousins expected to signe with the Minnesota Vikings, the Broncos have to have a contigency plan in place. Klis says he doesn’t know if Keenum is the Broncos’ absolute “Plan B” but does know that John Elway and company have interest. Keenum has a personal connection with the Broncos in Gary Kubiak, the former Super Bowl-winning coach who is now serving as Elway’s senior personnel advisor. Kubiak gave Keenum his NFL start with the Texans and spoke highly of Keenum in January.

Keenum could land $16-20 million per year on his next contract-an astounding figure for a 30-year-old QB who was the epitome of the career journeyman backup until his magical 2017 run with the Minnesota Vikings in 2017. That salary does not seem to be scaring teams away and Keenum will likely be a very wealthy man by mid-March.

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