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Arizona Cardinals 2014 NFL Draft Preview: Jimmie Ward, Strong Safety

May 2nd, 2014 at 4:58 AM
By Steve Smith

'' photo (c) 2008, Seth Page - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
The 2014 NFL Draft is less than a week away now and the Arizona Cardinals are preparing in earnest.

The Red Birds will select 20th overall in the first round. Let's take a look at a player the Cards may draft when it's time to make their selection.

His name is Jimmie Ward, a strong safety from Northern Illinois. Ward is 5-foot-11 and weighs 193 pounds.

Here is a look at his scouting profile via our friends at nfl.com:

Strengths: Intense, active and energetic. Zooms around the field and stands out on tape. Aggressive run supporter — triggers quickly, flies downhill and chops down ball carriers. Breaks on throws and shows short-area burst to close. Has quick hands to snatch interceptions. Confident and energetic. Experienced and productive. Has a 38-inch vertical jump.

Weaknesses: Size is just adequate — lacks ideal bulk and is built more like a cornerback than a safety. Bench-pressed 225 pounds just nine times at the combine, second fewest among DBs. Gets snagged on blocks and struggles to disengage. Can be a tick late diagnosing pass, gaining depth and digesting route combos. Lacks elite top-end speed. Inconsistent downfield ball reactions with his back to the throw. Shows lower-body stiffness in space. Could rub some people the wrong way. Has some maturing to do and needs to learn what it means to prepare like a pro. 

Bottom Line: Wiry, active, aggressive strong safety at his best playing downhill and reacting to plays in front him, yet possesses the cover skill to range over the top or lock down defenders in the slot. Ability to stay healthy in the future given lack of size and durability is the biggest concern. A very talented football player who could slide a round or two based on size, medical evaluations and attitude. Can contribute immediately at any safety position and positively affect the game if healthy and focused.

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Tags: Arizona, Arizona Cardinals, Football, Jimmie Ward, NFL

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