The Reese’s Senior Bowl is an invitation-only event. Players want to play in this All-Star game over others because of many things. For one, the coaching staff is all NFL coaches and not college coaches. For another, the two rosters are some of the best players in the nation. If a player can come in and compete and win against the best defender or offensive guy, then his draft status will rise.
And a rise in draft slotting means more money initially.
Here is a player that fits the position group the Cleveland Browns are looking to add a body. He had 60 total tackles this past season and 69 in 2021. He played cornerback all through high school and was recruited as one. After his sophomore year at LSU, they switched him to safety where he excelled.
S Jay Ward – LSU
6’-2”, 188 pounds
Projected round: 3
Browns pick #99
DBN: What will a GM get when he drafts you?
Ward: My versatility. I can play anything. I can play slot, box, man, zone, free safety, strong safety and even linebacker when there are five defenders in the secondary.
DBN: You are a former corner. What changes does that entail for you?
Ward: A lot of things changed. I had to learn different techniques to learn the position which was challenging but I picked it up fast. The communication is different somewhat but our secondary bonded and we would call out formations to see what the play is. Having spent time with each other off the field has made a big impact on us as a group.
DBN: What do you like about playing safety?
Ward: I get to come downhill more. I can come on the blitz, come off the edge, and suddenly I was on the field more. I played corner all my life until they shifted me to safety. It is a position that brings more hitting to my game which I enjoy. You can’t play safety if you can’t hit.
DBN: After a full week here at the Senior Bowl, what will scouts say about you once they leave?
Ward: They will have seen me do everything. 1-on-1’s, from the corner as I slide, and my business from the edge. They will see if I scheme for them.
DBN: Which is your strength: pass coverage or run support?
Ward: I cover the pass real well. Having played corner, with me that is like having just one more corner on the field.
DBN: What is your opinion of your tackling abilities?
Ward: My tackling abilities are good. I am very aggressive and try to be always around the ball.
DBN: Do you consider yourself a leader?
Ward: I am definitely a leader. Which makes a difference coming from the deep back end of the defense. I have the best view of what is happening and have no problem yelling around changes to coverage to help out.
DBN: Cleveland has a knack for having a roster of LSU players with seven on the roster currently. You would fit right in.
Ward: I would love to work in a secondary with Greedy and Grant. The three of us just might take over. LSU always has a good secondary and prides themselves on this. We have depth every year I was there.
LSU football Jay Ward 9 was SEC Player of the week! #lsu #lsufootball♬ NO SNITCHING (with Dusty Locane) - Lil Mabu & DUSTY LOCANE
DBN: Against Mississippi State you were named SEC Defensive Player of the Week. What was different about your game that day?
Ward: I brought wood that game. My coverage skills are always on high alert and the communication that day with the other secondary players really helped out. I was able to be in the right spot a lot during that game and really enjoyed it. I enjoy taking a running back down who has found a hole and thinks he is going to go all the way. That game wasn’t just me, I had good communication which put me in the right spot.
DBN: Since your last college game, what have you been doing to get ready for the Combine?
Ward: Working out constantly so that when I run the 40 I can sit back and watch the reaction. My diet is very strict which is critical to keeping up a strong body.
Barry Shuck is at the Reese’s Senior Bowl this week gathering interviews and providing coverage for Browns fans