T.J. Ward NFL Draft scouting report

T.J. Ward
5'10, 211 pounds | Safety | Oregon

Ward doesn't have the best agility and struggles changing direction. His hips look tight and shifty players can give him trouble.

Ball Skills: As far as interceptions go, Ward isn't the best. He doesn't have great hands, but he routinely makes a play on the ball. Where Ward shows his hands is in forcing fumbles.

Instincts/Recognition: An experienced player, even though he's missed some time due to injuries. Ward can quickly diagnose plays, which helps him get a great break on the ball.

Pass Coverage: Ward is a former cornerback, so he has more experience than most safety prospects in pass defense. He can handle covering possession-type slot receivers, but he's not very technically sound. His backpedal needs to be refined, but he has good speed to stick. He's much better in zone coverage where he can diagnose and react.

Run Support: Very quick to help support against the run. He is fast to react and really gets after the ball carrier. He's a strong enough tackler and can handle large running backs when he's playing technically sound.

Size: Is short with a stocky, muscular build. Doesn't have great arm length but is powerful. He likes to use his power too. Has the strength to quickly shed blockers.

Speed: Has good straight-line speed, but doesn't always play fast when he has to change direction. Struggled when he had to drop back in the deep middle and track the ball. Can be run away from.

Tackling: Ward is a powerful tackler who can intimidate with his hitting ability when he has to. However, he too often likes to lay a big hit instead of being a form tackler. This causes Ward to miss more tackles than you'd prefer.

Final word: Ward is talented, but he may drop during the draft due to a series of injuries. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in high school and during the 2006 season. He had to sit out a portion of the 2009 season due to an ankle injury.

Ward may have played free safety at Oregon, but he projects more to strong safety because of his lack of agility and his plus strength. He's very good supporting the run and is more of a factor in that part of the game than against the pass.

Some teams may pass on him due to his injury history. But Ward should be able to come in and immediately contribute nicely on special teams and challenge for a starting spot as a rookie.
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