- Illinois Big Ten
- 5.11 sec 40 yd dash
- 20 reps bench press
- 25″ verticle
- 11″ broad jump
- 7:38 sec 3 cone drill
- 4.63 sec 20 yd shuttle
- 33 7/8″ arm length
- 207 lbs
- 8 3/8″ hands
Just 24 years old the above information is from his NFL combine yet the (very) young man has kept himself fit as the Cowboys currently list him at 295 lbs. Drafted in the second round by the Oakland Raiders and miscast as a defensive end Ward doesn’t have that elite pass rusher jump the top flight DE’s in the NFL have. He’s not slow, he’s just not Von Miller quick and it’s a matter of mere moments and a fingernail’s distance that separate backups, starters, and elites.
Another mans junk is one man’s treasure and Ward may not have the skill set to excel as a pass rushing DE but he is perfect for what the Cowboys Rod Marinelli is looking for in a 1-tech for his defense. Rod wants his 1-techs to do more than just eat space. Marinelli wants them to be able to handle run stopping duties but also have “disruption jump” as well. In his D everyone can get to the QB or disrupt the running game from the offensive side of the ball and that job requirement suits Jihad Ward to a T.
Check out this scouting report from his NFL Draft preparation:
“Can play both end spots and has bumped down inside to tackle as well. Has room for even more muscle on his frame. Great effort throughout the play and will continue his chase until whistle blows. Length and down-the-line quickness give him expanded playmaking range. Urgent closing burst to the ball. Full force tackler with thump behind his pads. Keeps feet moving and active throughout his pass rush.” – NFL.com
You watch video (plenty out there) and you can see the power, quickness and strong hands. He get’s lost sometimes on the outside and doesn’t look quite natural enough out there. However, watch the video below and envision his skills moved inside. Oh, yea. Now that’s a picture. I get a flashback to the 90’s and Jimmie Jones who played RT for the Cowboys at a very high-level wrecking havoc in the opposing backfield. His two fumble recoveries (one for a TD) in Super Bowl XXVII were incredible and I see the same potential for disruption in Ward.
There is one caveat, however, and it’s a big, yet one I believe the Cowboys have the tools to address. Also from his NFL Draft scouting report:
“Ward is a developmental prospect who has the size to fit as a 4-3 base end or defensive tackle and as a 3-4 defensive end. Is he mean enough to play inside though? He might need a position coach to draw that out of him while he continues to develop.” NFL.com
It all looks great on paper. Can’t wait for camp.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over