Illinois defensive tackle Jihad Ward has not necessarily been in the spotlight in the time leading up to the draft. But, like many other players have in recent weeks, he has climbed the ladder.
For MMQB’s Peter King, the defensive tackle is now anticipated to be the dark horse selection in the first round at pick No. 29. King previously had ‘s Ryan Kelly at this spot on his mock draft, but Kelly has gained momentum, and will likely no longer be available on the board at that time.
Others such as Josh Norris believe that Ward is one of the top forty players in the draft since seeing him at the Senior Bowl back in late January. But several evaluators are still skeptical that he will actually go in the first round, and believe that he may fall to the early to mid second round instead.
In his most recent season with the Fighting Illini, Ward amassed a total of 1.5 sacks and 53 tackles over a span of 12 games.
When he goes pro after this year’s draft, we can expect to see Ward end up with a team like the Arizona Cardinals, who are in need of some extra assistance on the defensive side.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports