After making a trade down in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings have added another piece to their defensive backfield.
With the 134th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings have selected Jay Ward, a defensive back from Louisiana State University.
Ward projects as more of a safety in the Vikings’ defense. There had been some questions about his speed, but he seemed to answer those in his pre-draft workouts. He also has quite a bit of starting experience in a very good LSU defense, having gotten time at cornerback and safety down in Baton Rouge.
Dane Brugler of The Athletic has Ward as the #14 safety in this year’s draft class. Here’s what Brugler has to say about Ward:
A three-year starter at LSU, Ward played all over the secondary in defensive coordinator Matt House’s scheme. He split his 23 starts for the Tigers at safety (13 starts), slot cornerback (6) and outside cornerback (4) and was described as the “glue” of the defense. There is a fine line between versatile and tweener, and NFL scouts are split on which side of the fence Ward falls. He is coordinated in coverage with cornerback ball skills, but he lacks high-end athleticism and anticipation in space. Though he is more than willing in run support, his marginal strength leads to matchup opportunities for tight ends and missed tackles. Overall, Ward has strong football character and takes pride running alleys and crowding catch points, but his tweener traits create position/scheme fit questions. Despite being listed as a safety, he is more of a true nickel and special-teamer
There are plenty of openings in the defensive backfield for the Vikings. We’ll see how Brian Flores and the rest of the Vikings’ defensive coaches employ him early on, but this seems like another solid addition
Welcome to Minnesota, Jay!