Now through the end of August, we will continue our 90-in-90 player series. If you missed the previous player breakdowns, you can check them out here.
Name: T.J. Ward
Height: 5'10" Weight: 200
Age: 30 Experience: 7
The Denver Broncos have a long and storied tradition of physical strong safeties who have the ability to create game-changing turnovers and leave bodies of opposing players in their wake on the gridiron. T.J. Ward is no exception, and joins a long list of memorable players who have served the strong safety role for the team with grit and determination.
Ward spent the first four years of his career with the Cleveland Browns before jumping ship and joining high profile defenders DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib as well as offensive playmaker Emmanuel Sanders in the Broncos' free agency class of 2014 — which may arguably go down as one one of the best classes in the history of the NFL.
Speaking of the best in history, Ward believes that the Broncos defense can go down as the greatest to ever play. That's a bold statement to make, but one that he and his teammates are out to prove in 2016. At any case, the Broncos are lucky to have the aforementioned slate of playmakers on their roster and are destined once more for great success in the upcoming gridiron campaign.
The Broncos and fans should expect Ward to continue to play at a very high level for the next two seasons, which is the time he has left remaining on the four-year. $23 million dollar contract he signed several years ago. No matter who the opponent is, you know Ward is going to bring energy and swagger to the field each and every week.
The Good: Vocal leader in the secondary. Leads by example and has shown the willingness and diligence to be a mentor for the younger defensive backs on the roster. Tenacious and vicious hitter with a penchant for destroying opposing players with his tackles. Versatile defender who showcases his talent not only as a defender in the secondary, but an effective blitzer who can wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
One of his biggest assets is his run support and top-tier level of play as an 'in-box' safety. Creates a lot of turnovers and forced fumbles with his devastating hits. Outstanding leadership isn't limited to just the gridiron, Ward does a lot for various communities through camps and various charities.
The Bad: Average in coverage. Lacks the size to be able to defend tight ends one-on-one on a regular basis. Can get beat in the redzone on jump balls and throws to much larger targets. Occasionally takes some poor angles on tackles and opts for the knock out blow instead of using fundamental wrap-up tackling technique.
Quotable: "Absolutely. I feel that even more because at this point last year, we were still trying to find things out and figure things out. Right now, we’ve figured them out. We know who’s going to be out there and we know who plays well with each other. We’re much further ahead than where we were last year. It feels good." — Ward on whether or not the Broncos defense can improve from last season
Status: Ward is a lock to be the team's starting strong safety in 2016 and 2017. The team did draft Will Parks and Justin Simmons to be reserve safeties, but don't look for them to take away starting snaps and playing time from the seasoned veteran yet.