Bengals: Each AFC North foe's most overrated player in 2023

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
2 of 3

Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward

Okay, hear me out, Browns fans. While Ward is a two-time Pro Bowler, he was drafted fourth overall in 2018. The top-five draft billing is typically given to cornerbacks who are consistently All-Pro like Jalen Ramsey or Sauce Gardner, who has a real case for being the best defensive back in the league.

Ward has been incredibly solid during his time in Cleveland, but 2022 saw the worst play of his career, posting a pedestrian 56.8 grade on Pro Football Focus. While Ward is a noticeable presence in the secondary, he might not be living up to the fourth overall status.

One recent 2018 re-draft from Pro Football Network had Ward slip to 13th overall, being the fifth defensive back taken. Listing Ward here is somewhat difficult as he is a consistently good cornerback and a vocal leader in the locker room, but does he live up to his draft capital?

While Ward had a hopefully lone down year in 2022, another cornerback in the 2018 draft class has been improving every season. Jaire Alexander was 2020’s highest-rated cornerback with an absurd 90.5 grade, and after missing 2021 due to injury, he bounced back with an elite 2022 campaign.

This passage is not meant to be a debate about which cornerback is better, but to show that if the Browns were to redraft the 2018 class, I am not sure they would take Ward again. While a good player, he has not lived up to the consistent caliber of play that is expected from the fourth overall pick and is overshadowed by other defensive backs in his own draft class.