Jimmie Ward, the San Francisco 49ers‘ surprise first-round selection, may end up being one of, if not the, best defensive back in this year’s draft class. Call me crazy, but I like what I see.
Ward has a hard-hitting safety mentality. He is a fierce competitor with the fire to get better each and every day and to earn his keep. Combine this with a body built for a cornerback and you can see one of two things: 1) His body is not good enough for him to succeed, or 2) He will be one heck of a versatile defensive back thanks to his ball-hawking skills (7 picks this past year), ability and willingness to stop the run, and overall talent.
Ward was downgraded by many for one thing: his size. With the vast majority of the NFL following Seattle’s lead with big, tall, strong defensive backs, being 5-10/5-11 is not going to do you any favors with front offices around the league. As any stock trader worth his job can tell you, however, you buy when the price falls and sell when the price rises. Bradley Roby may have been the sexier pick, or the one that agreed more with draft pundits, but if the only thing that holds Ward back is a bit of size, then what is the big deal? Especially if he would be average height for a cornerback if the 49ers do decide to switch him primarily to that position.
Ward has less growth to do than most defensive back prospects coming into the league this year. Unfortunately, he cannot grow, but he can jump (38 inches!). Though you may disagree, and though the vast majority of the 49ers’ fan base was left asking, “Jimmie Who?” for a second, Trent Baalke and company may have hit one out of the park.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Comment and tweet @SFNinerNoise!