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T.J. Ward Featured as a "Secret Superstar" by Pro Football Focus

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Browns S T.J. Ward hopes to remain healthy as he enters his third season as a pro.
Browns S T.J. Ward hopes to remain healthy as he enters his third season as a pro.

Miami Dolphins QB Matt Moore.
New England Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich.
New York Jets OLB Aaron Maybin.
Baltimore Ravens DT Pernell McPhee.
Cincinnati Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap.

If you have heard of each of those players in the past, then give yourself a little pat on the back. Pro Football Focus is in the process of labeling certain players as "secret superstars," and as of Saturday, the players above were the ones featured for 2012 so far. On Sunday, PFF added Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward to the list, who, "despite finishing the season on injured reserve, has given Browns fans further hope that the franchise is turning around."

Some highlights from the article that praised Ward:

His 2011 season was cut short midway through the season but his overall grade of +5.6 was still good enough to see him ranked ninth at his position. Through eight games he missed just two tackles–a massive improvement on his first season–while adding 11 defensive stops. In coverage he gave up four touchdowns and managed to break up just two of the 22 passes thrown at him, but he allowed 3.8 fewer yards per reception than in 2010.

Against the Run

Ward’s 5-foot-10, 211-pound frame suggests a safety built to play the run well and it’s in that area that he has graded out best during his first two seasons in the league. He may have been 37th overall in his rookie season, but based on his rating against the run alone, only nine safeties had better seasons. In 2011, despite only playing in eight games, Ward was tied for seventh in that category.

Against the Pass

While his play against the run is already up there with the league’s best, his coverage skills still require some work. In two seasons he has given up six touchdowns from the 70 passes thrown into his coverage. Looking just at 2011, it was four TDs from 22 targets; a touchdown on 18.18% of throws his way. He also allowed a reception once every 18.1 snaps in coverage.

Check out the rest of the article for more on Ward from PFF.