5. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Pros: Ward is undeniably the best defensive back at any position in this draft. The Packers may have to move up to grab him, but it is possible he slides down to 14 if just a little luck drops their way.
Ward didn’t miss a beat while at Ohio State and established himself as a star under Urban Meyer. He is supremely athletic and can change direction in a blur. Receivers will have a challenging time separating from Ward in the NFL, just as they did in college. Ward’s technique is unmatched. He flashed a consistent ability to close on receivers who had a step on him while also playing on the short side of routes to take away comebacks.
Ward allowed a completion on just under a third of his targets over the last two seasons, a skill the Packers will need in a division featuring Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and the ascending Mitchell Trubisky.
Ward makes receivers work for every catch they can muster and consistently makes life tougher for the quarterback. Ward has the highest potential out of any of the aforementioned prospects, and the Packers should be salivating at the thought of parking him in their secondary.
Cons: Ward is so gifted as a coverage man that the other parts of his game suffer just a touch. He is not the physically strongest player at his position and as a result his run defense takes a hit.
Running backs take him for a ride any chance they get, exposing his slight frame and awkward center of gravity. Ward shouldn’t be expected to help the Packers’ run defense at all. Lucky for them, they would be drafting him to defend the pass.
Kevin King is the opposite type of player to Ward. King is taller, thicker, and stronger against the run. Adding Ward would give the Packers a nice complement to the cornerback they already have on the other side of their defense.
King and Ward would give Mike Pettine a nice combination of size, speed, and ball-hawking pass defense. If Ward is available at 14, there shouldn’t be a second of discussion in the Packers’ war room.