Jihad Ward   DE/DT   Illinois

Jihad has amazing potential to be a complete defensive lineman for the team that selects him. He has the long arms and legs that make him a natural pass rusher and is the quickest defensive lineman in this draft shedding blocks and making tackles. He has excellent feet, balance and change of direction skills. His burst off the line and change of direction speed is as good as any linebackerís in this draft. Jihad is playing in a 2-gap defense and being moved all over the line because of his ability to shed blockers and make tackles, but donít be fooled, this kid can rush the passer with the best pass rushers in this draft. His burst and length make him a natural pass rusher. Jihad is very smart and has excellent confidence and makes the players around him better. He has the maturity and work ethic you look for in a complete player. He reminds me a lot of Fletcher Cox and has the same potential to impact as a complete defensive lineman as Fletcher has in any style of defense front.

There is no doubt of Jihadís talent, size, football intelligence and work ethic to play the game so what are the concerns? I liked to see him finish better when pass rushing, learn more second moves after he engages and learn how to set up his opponent when pass rushing. In his defense, being moved around the defensive front with the priority to stop the run first, doesnít allow a player to learn just one position and become a better pass rusher. I have no doubt that he will learn like a sponge and improve in this area once he gets into the NFL.

Fletch Cox was drafted in the 1st round as the 12th pick in the 2012 Draft. If Iím looking for a complete defensive lineman, I would not hesitate to draft Jihad at the same point in this draft. He will have to learn to deal with double teams more effectively and learn more complete pass rushing moves, but there is no doubt in my mind of the impact Jihad can have in the NFL. I really like his on field maturity, confidence and leadership skills and that along with his natural talent, strength and ability to shed blockers and tackle makes Jihad potentially one of the better defensive linemen in this pool of very talented defensive lineman for this draft. Tell me, if you had the chance to draft a clone of Fletcher Cox how long would it take you to select him? Well nowís your chance. Jihad Ward is a clone of Fletcher Cox.

Drew Boylhart  APR.2016