On Thursday night, cornerback Denzel Ward became the latest in a long line of former Buckeyes to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft when the Cleveland Browns took the All-American cornerback with the fourth overall pick.
Ward joins former OSU teammates Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, Gareon Conley, and Eli Apple as Buckeye defensive backs taken in the first round over the past three drafts. When also counting Bradley Roby in 2014, six Ohio State DBs were taken in the first round after having been coached by former OSU secondary coach, Kerry Coombs.
After biding his time behind those other first-round talents, Ward had a breakout season, picking up 37 tackles, two interceptions, and 15 pass-breakups in 2017. The Macedonia, Ohio native also had 17 passes defended on the season, the fourth highest total in Ohio State history. Ward was one of three Buckeyes to forego their fourth year of eligibility to declare for the draft this year.
Ward’s 40-yard dash time of 4.32 seconds tied him for the fastest sprint of any defensive back at this spring’s NFL Combine, and his 39-inch vertical was the seventh best.
The Buckeye has been projected as the top corner in the draft from the moment that he declared by sitting out of the Cotton Bowl in December, and the Browns got a player ready to start right away.
Throughout the season, Ward proved that he was not only an excellent cover-corner, with the athletic ability to defend or intercept any ball thrown to his side of the field, but he also showed an ability— and willingness— to lay big hits on receivers who dared to catch the ball in his general vicinity.
Congrats to Ward on continuing to prove that Ohio State’s secondary is the #BIA.