While many were surprised when the Cleveland Browns selected quarterback Baker Mayfield first overall in last month’s draft, their next choice also raised eyebrows.
At No. 4 overall, the Browns passed on highly touted N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb and instead took Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward.
While many experts acknowledged Ward is a quality player, they thought Cleveland could have gotten more value from the pick.
“If the Browns didn’t want Chubb, there were undoubtedly a slew of teams who would have jumped at the chance to trade up and grab him, knowing that the Denver Broncos were certain to select him should he fall to 5,” said Seth Dunlap of WWL.com. “Chubb was considered by most a more can’t miss guy, and by everybody as the best edge rusher in this year’s draft — a position that is always at high demand.
“That is a huge missed opportunity. Yes, Ward may turn out to be a fine player, but it’s hard to say the Browns did anything but completely bungle their picks at the top of the NFL Draft. The Browns will be the Browns, I suppose.”
Added Mark Maske of The Washington Post: “The Browns, even with a new regime and a new GM in John Dorsey, are still the Browns. They could have taken Bradley Chubb to pair with Myles Garrett as book-end pass rushers. Instead, they go with cornerback Denzel Ward. … It’s difficult to believe that the Browns maximized the value of these picks.”
The Browns DESERVE to be bad tbh. Awful pick with Denzel Ward. He is a good player but definitely not good enough to be a 4th overall pick
— Guilherme Fonseca (@guifonseca19) April 27, 2018
Ward didn’t do anything to change the minds of the naysayers during the team’s three-day rookie minicamp.
On the first day, Friday, the cornerback suffered a hip flexor strain. He was held out of practice Saturday.
Long-suffering Browns fans immediately went into gloom mode.
So it begins..1-47 we'll get the #1 draft pick next year too?
— Brian Rupp (@RUPP_CLEfan) May 5, 2018
That didn't take long…..
— Tony Setliff (@TSetliff80) May 5, 2018
Has he been ruled out for the opener yet?
— Jim Paboucek (@Pabo1966) May 5, 2018
Ward struggled Friday before he left the field. During one-on-one drills, he was covering receiver Tony Morris from Heidelberg University — a tiny Division III school in Ohio — when he was beaten deep.
“Morris got behind Ward for a deep reception, which was surprising considering Ward tied for the fastest 40 time at the NFL combine in March at 4.32 seconds,” wrote Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
— Pat Chiesa (@PatChiesa) May 4, 2018
During Saturday’s practice, Ward worked with trainers and rode a stationary bike.
Browns coach Hue Jackson said it was just a precautionary move.
“I do not think being out here and having a guy if there is anything that we feel that might hurt a guy, I am going to make sure that I take him out,” Jackson said Friday via the Browns website.
Cleveland fans can only hope Ward will silence his critics by staying healthy and playing to the level of a No. 4 pick.
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