Jay Ward Complete NFL Draft Profile (Heavy-Hitting Safety Comes With Obvious Flaws to Fix)
By Larry Rupp
LSU defensive back Jay Ward is eligible for the 2023 NFL Draft following his standout college career. A four-year contributor for the Tigers, Ward spent time landing massive hits at both the cornerback and safety position. He could hear his name called as early as the fifth round at the end of April.
Here's everything you need to know about Jay Ward heading into the 2023 NFL Draft.
Jay Ward Draft Stock & Mock Draft Projections
Kansas City Chiefs
Las Vegas Raiders
Mock draft sources accurate as of 4/25: NFL.com, ESPN, CBS Sports, Walter Football, Sporting News.
Projected Draft Round: Round 5 (2), Round 6 (2), Round 7 (1)
Projected Team: Jaguars (2), Chiefs (1), Lions (1), Raiders (1)
Jay Ward Scouting Report
Ward committed to LSU out of high school and wasted no time making a name for himself on the Tigers defense. He logged 3 pass breakups and 4 total tackles as a freshman before tallying 6 pass breakups, 3 interceptions and 29 total tackles across eight games played as a sophomore in 2020.
The Georgia native moved to safety in the spring of 2021, which is where he started all 11 games in the fall and racked up 69 total tackles to go along with 4 pass breakups. He finished his college career by posting 60 total tackles (2.5 for loss) and 4 pass breakups across 13 games played in 2022.
Highlighted strengths of Ward's game focus on his non-stop motor. He gives his full effort with every snap of the football and became an undoubted leader on an LSU defense that went through three different coordinators in three years. Ward also excels at shedding blockers to get to the ball-carrier.
Ward is far from a perfect prospect, though, as his leaner frame suggests he is more of a cornerback than he is a safety. His injury history can be tied to the high-impact collisions he seeks out in rush defense. Nevertheless, Ward can change his tackling technique to become a reliable NFL starter.
Jay Ward NFL Draft Prediction
Ward's excellence in stopping the run was mentioned above, but it's worth noting he also proved satisfactory when it came to reading the quarterback's eyes and deflecting passes in coverage. He could be a player that makes an impact in all facets of the game under the right guidance in the NFL.
That right guidance could come from the 49ers, who posted the best total DVOA rating in the league last season. San Francisco has Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson ready to be the starting safety duo for 2023, but the latter is only playing on a one-year deal. Gipson even contemplated retirement.
Keep in mind the No. 3 option behind those guys is Taylor Hawkins. Hawkins spent the 2022 season on the practice squad, so bringing in some competition wouldn't be a bad idea. San Francisco has three draft picks slated in the fifth round and that is when most projections have Ward being taken.
Prediction: San Francisco 49ers (Round 5, 155th, 164th or 173rd overall)
Check out more NFL Draft content from The Duel:
Jay Ward NFL Combine Results
Jay Ward LSU Stats
Tackles For Loss
Jay Ward LSU Highlights
Larry Rupp is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Larry Rupp also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username phillyfan424. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.