COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State junior cornerback Denzel Ward, from Macedonia, Ohio and Nordonia High School, was chosen in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft with the fourth overall pick by the Cleveland Browns. The draft is being held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and it will continue with Rounds 2-3 Friday and Rounds 4-7 on Saturday.
The selection of Ward gives Ohio State five cornerbacks taken in the first round of the NFL Draft in five years, a first in the history of the NFL Draft. His selection also positions Ohio State with these additional draft records/near records/accolades:
– Ward is the fifth Ohio State defensive back chosen in the first round over the last three NFL Drafts, an all-time draft record for DBs taken over three years;
– He is the fourth Ohio State cornerback taken in the first round the last three years, an NFL all-time best;
– He is the sixth Buckeye defensive back taken in the first round in the last five years, tying Miami’s NFL record-run of six defensive backs in five years between 2002-06; and
– He extends a string of first-round cornerbacks from Ohio State to three consecutive years, which Ohio State did previously from 1999 through 2001, and which has only been done once before: by Texas A&M from 1992 to 1994.
Ohio State’s 1st-Round Defensive Backs – 2014-18
Year | Pick | Pos. | Player – Team
2018 | No. 4 | CB Denzel Ward – Cleveland Browns
2017 | No. 11 | CB Marshon Lattimore – New Orleans Saints
2017 | No. 15 | SAF Malik Hooker – Indianapolis Colts
2017 | No. 24 | CB Gareon Conley – Oakland Raiders
2016 | No. 10 | CB Eli Apple – New York Giants
2014 | No. 31 | CB Bradley Roby – Denver Broncos
Ward, 5-11 and 197 pounds as a Buckeye, also gives Ohio State the distinction of having the first cornerback taken in the draft in back-back years and for the fifth time in draft history, also an NFL Draft record.
Buckeyes Taken as No. 1 Cornerback in the Draft
2018 Denzel Ward, No. 4 overall by the Cleveland Browns
2017 Marshon Lattimore, No. 11 overall by the New Orleans Saints
2009 Malcolm Jenkins, No. 14 overall by the New Orleans Saints
2001 Nate Clements, No. 21 overall by the Buffalo Bills
1997 Shawn Springs, No. 3 overall by the Seattle Seahawks
Ward at Ohio State
Ward played three seasons with the Buckeyes before electing to forego his senior season to make himself available for the draft. This after he had an outstanding junior season in 2017, earning consensus All-America honors and first-team all-Big Ten accolades after recording 17 passes defensed with 15 pass break-ups and two interceptions, including one interception in the Big Ten championship game win over Wisconsin. The 17 passes defensed is the fourth-highest single season total in school history.
Ward had five pass break-ups, and six passes defensed, in the season opener against Indiana and he made one of the biggest plays of the year in the 39-38 win over Penn State: blocking a fourth-quarter punt with the Buckeyes down by 15. The play led to a touchdown and the start of a remarkable, 18-point comeback win for Ohio State over the No. 2 team in the nation. Ward’s season also included 37 total tackles in his 13 starts.
For his career, Ward played in 38 games and had 57 tackles and 26 passes defended, including two interceptions. He is majoring in sport industry.