Round 1, Pick 4: CB Denzel Ward to the Cleveland Browns
This pick shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody as it was exactly what the Browns needed. However, what led to this pick was what shocked everyone which was the Browns using their first pick and number overall pick on quarterback Baker Mayfield.
It was originally thought that the Browns would choose a superior running back such as Penn State‘s superstar Saquon Barkley with their first pick and then choose the best quarterback available at four. However, things changed drastically days before the draft as the Browns had reportedly moved Mayfield to the top of their draft board.
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At that point, it was clear that Barkley would be out of the picture as the New York Giants or the New York Jets would be strong suitors for Barkley at picks two and three. With Barkley off the board at four and their need at quarterback filled, it became apparent that the Browns would make a move to improve their secondary.
Cleveland did just that as they quickly snatched up the best defensive back in the draft: Denzel Ward. Ward, a predecessor of many recent greats to have graduated from the Buckeyes’ secondary, is a great fit for the Browns.
One of the most recent graduates of the Buckeyes’ secondary to thrive in the NFL is Saints’ cornerback Marshon Lattimore. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in his first season and named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Ward is a quick-footed corner who can stick to his receiver while staying square to the quarterback. He doesn’t have incredible size but his speed and awareness are more than enough to make up for it. Ward is easily in the spotlight as one of the more interesting prospects coming out of the draft.
Ward was one of the most effective defensive backs in the NCAA last season. He stepped up as a defensive leader on what was already a stout Buckeyes defense in Week 1 and didn’t look back. Ward was in the top three in the Big Ten in passes defended.
With a big-time play-maker like Ward to secure their secondary, the Browns should look much faster and have a stronger defensive presence. The Browns have been one of the worst teams overall and have definitely been near the worst in terms of giving up the most touchdowns through the air. The addition of Ward should provide a quick fix to the Browns’ major issues in the back end.