Senior Wide Receiver Eric Ward is attempting to get himself drafted in a few weeks, who could possibly get drafted in the later rounds, or end up trying to make a roster spot after the process is over. Most draft analysis thought he was a mid-round choice back in 2012. Now, he'll be fighting for a chance to be drafted and remain on the roster. Let's take a look at his measurables and what he can do at the next level:
VERTICAL: - BROAD JUMP: 9'-2"
SHORT SHUTTLE: 4.44 THREE CONE DRILL: 7.04
BENCH PRESS: 13 reps VIDEO: Highlights (music NSFW) | EVERY TD
POSITIONAL RANKING: 43rd Wide Receiver, 354th Overall
BEST POSSIBLE SCENARIO: Drafted in late rounds, as early as 5th
WORST POSSIBLE SCENARIO: Preferred Rookie Free Agent
Eric Ward is going to have from trouble getting drafted this. Many were saying that he would've been a mid round pick last year, but with a total of 19 wideouts coming out early (including the Top 11 WRs on the board), Ward has slipped in rankings. Some things that may help Ward during the draft process is his ability to catch basically anything. If you look at either highlight film, you''ll amazing catches, ranging from on ground catches to one handed falling down to reaching over players. This is a key in the NFL, when guys are always flying around hitting you from all different angles. Also, his size and speed could translate well with being a slot receiver, like former Texas Tech WRS Welker and Amendola. He can move quick enough on his feet to be able to do some of the basic slot routes. Plus he should be able to go the sideline with his great catching ability. Finally, Ward has some bulk on him and could block at the next level. A team that runs the ball mostly may try and get a blocking WR like Ward to help with their running game.
Now unfortunately, there are also negatives to Wards game. One thing that will bother scouts is his lack of size and real speed. The NFL of today has requested that receivers for the most have either a lot of size, strength and decedent speed, or a lot of size and agility in their game. Ward is listed at 5'11" and his 40 time is at 4.66 something they may scare a lot of GMs away. Now we can always point to the Welkers/Woodheads/Beasleys of the world and say "He's succeeding in the NFL, and he doesn't have any of those traits", but most of the time those players don't work out. Another item that could hurt Ward is the fact he played in the Air Raid offense. Some refer to Ward as a "system player" and will only be able to thrive in one system. So because of that, a lot of teams that may not pass a lot may not pick Ward, even if he's on the board.
I think any team to pass on Ward would be a fool. He has similar tools as Welker and Amendola did coming out, and while I don't think he'll be as quick and shifty as those two, he'll be a bigger deep threat. When I see Ward, I can't help but to think of Anquan Boldin. I think Ward will play inside receiver at the next level and has possesses the strength like Boldin does. He's also won't be afraid to go up the middle and make Nickel CBs and Linebackers pay. Here is what CBSsports wrote about Eric Ward's strengths and weaknesses:
Ward's numbers speak for themselves, but it is combination of size, strength and athleticism that has scouts intrigued. The well-built Ward is a reliable route-runner and hands-catcher and has the toughness to handle playing the slot at the next level.
Here is isportsweb.com wrote about Eric Ward and why it would be smart to draft him:
Ward is a play maker who’s more than capable of playing at the next level. He’s a smart and has a good work ethic. Throughout the 2011, 2012, and 2013 football seasons, Ward showed his ability to get open in space and make spectacular catches. Ward also played for two different head coaches, and emerged as a key player in both of their offenses.
Because of his height, Ward would be a good fit for a slot receiver position in the NFL. He would thrive in an air-based offense, much like he did in his years at Texas Tech. Ward’s talents would be well suited for the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, and perhaps even the Dallas Cowboys.
All those systems would work very well for Eric Ward. I personally could see him the most with the Colts and Cowboys out of that list. Here is some other spots I could see Eric Ward landing:
- Baltimore Ravens - Ravens right know have a "run the ball or ATMO" type offense, and as people saw last year, when on of those elements don't work, the offense comes to a complete stop. They could benefit from a receiver like Ward, who could stretch the offense as a 3rd receiver in that system. While the Ravens do like to run a 2 WR, TE and two back set, they could exchange Ward in there at times to help with mismatches and to change the pace up. Plus I mentioned he could be an Anquan Boldin ahead, which the Ravens missed more than they realized.
- Houston Texans - The WR depth chart for the Texans consist of Johnson and Hopkins, and that's really it. I think the Texans will either try to get a receiver in the middle of the draft, or try and get one late. Texans may take a chance at the Big XII superstar in the later round, trying to solidify depth between their top two receivers. I feel like Bill O'Brien can make Ward into a great player if he goes to Houston.
- Seattle Seahawks - If the 'Hawks don't try to get a receiver in the early round, they could go after Ward in the late rounds. They would like a blocking WR that could also help spread the field a little bit. Plus with late picks in the later rounds, they may be more likely to pick him.
Coming up in the NFL Draft Profile series: