Denzel Ward‘s big contract extension earlier this year put him among the highest-paid NFL cornerbacks.
In fact, he was the top-paid until the Packers pushed Jaire Alexander just ahead of Ward and Jalen Ramsey.
And the NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks says the Cleveland Browns lockdown corner deserves every dollar.
Brooks recently shared who he thinks are the top 5 cornerbacks in the NFL.
Agree or disagree with @BuckyBrooks’ Top 5 CBs? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/5AeECD8U0q
— NFL (@NFL) May 31, 2022
And Denzel Ward came in at #2, right behind Ramsey and ahead of J.C. Jackson, Alexander, and Xavien Howard.
Cleveland fans might argue Ward is underrated after an excellent 2021 season.
As Brooks said in a recent NFL.com article,
“The Browns’ No. 1 corner routinely throws blankets on top of the opponent’s best receiver by utilizing a variety of shadow techniques. Ward’s athleticism, footwork and technique make him hard to shake.”
And he warned that Ramsey’s hold on the top spot is somewhat precarious after a shaky Super Bowl performance.
Ward could be ready to slip past the Rams’ veteran, maybe as early as this season.
Bengals Rival Agrees On Ward
AFC North receivers get to play against Ward twice per year and that might be 2 times too many for them.
Cincinnati’s rookie sensation, Ja’Marr Chase, is among those recognizing Ward’s prowess.
Chase told Paul Dehner of the Athletic.com that Ward changed the way he prepares for an opponent.
“The first main person I really started to study was that freakin’ cat from the Browns, (Denzel) Ward,” Chase said, “I like his game a lot. He’s so good and so patient. He doesn’t get beat often. He is really patient, so you have to watch his tape real, real close to find out everything you can on him. He’s the one guy I watched a lot of film on.”
It was Chase who made Ramsey look human in the Bengals’ Super Bowl loss.
“The first main person I really started to study was that freakin' cat from the Browns,” said #Bengals Ja’Marr Chase.
High praise for #Browns Denzel Ward
MORE: https://t.co/tQTSwlEMtl via @BrownsDigestSI
— Brandon Little (@BrandonLittleFB) June 2, 2022
But it was Ward’s performance in Week 9 that sent Cincinnati’s rookie to the film room.
And he especially looked at Ward’s 99-yard interception return for a touchdown on a pass intended for Chase.
Chase hopes studying Ward will make him the star next time the pair create a highlight-reel play.
Ward Anchors Strong Secondary
Rookie Martin Emerson joins second-year sensation Greg Newsome and Ward in Joe Woods’ secondary.
And Ward’s young counterparts just might drive another solid corner off the roster.
Greedy Williams bounced back nicely from injuries to enjoy a solid 2021 for the Browns.
But he could be the spare wheel as he approaches free agency.
I’ve thought about this play by Denzel Ward all morning. #Browns pic.twitter.com/7HhMnGM7dZ
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) September 13, 2021
Especially if 2020 UDFA A.J. Green earns a bigger role on one of the NFL’s strongest units.
Ward is recognized league-wide as a shutdown corner in man coverage.
And Newsome did not leave the other side open for big plays either.
It says a lot about the rookie Emerson that Woods is moving Newsome to the slot to make room for him.
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