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Could Denzel Ward be Surprise Pick for Colts at No. 6?

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NCAA Football: Maryland at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis Colts fans have been combing through every feasible option with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. When the Colts were at No. 3, it was Bradley Chubb almost across the board at any network, or any other outlet for that matter.

Now that the Colts have moved back to No. 6, Chubb remains in the conversation, but with the trade of Jason Pierre-Paul to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New York Giants make sense as a landing spot for him. Quenton Nelson, now enters the discussion. Saquon Barkley remains a possibility and linebackers Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have begun to get consideration.

The pass rushers take a bit of a dip, talent-wise, after Chubb and the Colts legitimately have heavy needs for linebackers and offensive linemen. Thus, all of these prospects seem to be plausible suggestions for the Colts. But, the Colts have an additional glaring need as well, and judging from respected big boards throughout the draft community, a guy who often sits somewhere in the top 10 among 2018 talents as well.

Not only do the Colts have a true need at cornerback, Denzel Ward would fit in quite nicely with what Chris Ballard, Frank Reich and Matt Eberflus are attempting to build on the defensive side of the ball. More zone coverages, a need to be physical in run support, someone who can challenge the catch point with his leaping ability and has excellent pattern-matching skills with great speed; it sounds very much like what Ward brings to the table.

Ward may not be the 6-foot, 205 pound killer most are looking for right now, but he certainly could add a bit of mass to his current 191-pound frame by year two. With his athleticism mitigating his 5-foot-10 stature, what the Colts need is a play-maker and he fits that mold.

Last year Ward increased his physicality, and saw an uptick in solo tackles as a result while adding a couple interceptions and 15 passes defensed as a premiere college defensive back at Ohio State. He’s extremely smooth at the position and could be an amazing piece in the construction of the Colts young secondary without question.

At No. 6 though? The next question: Why not?

I don’t think Ward will be on the board very long in late April, and he likely deserves to be a top-10 pick, but I don’t see the Colts taking a cornerback that high in the first round. Just from what we “know” about this draft class, taking Ward would be a hard sell due to the depth at the position versus that of, let’s say, the pass rushers in this class.

There is perceived depth along the offensive line, some good Day 2 options at receiver and cornerback, and the running back position appears quite deep as well. The argument for a cornerback runs into some resistance in that respect, especially when you have some elite linebackers sitting there and Chubb is gone in this scenario.

With the right linebackers being there for the taking and a logical argument for being the larger need, depth at other positions including corner it’s really hard to see Ward going at No. 6. Colts fans might just revolt if any combination of Barkley, Nelson, Edmunds and Smith are available and Ward gets the nod over them.

But then again, this is the NFL Draft — anything can happen — and Ward is a arguably a top-5, top-10 worthy pick with the Colts having a need. As exciting as Ward will likely be in the NFL throughout his career, Ballard appears to — and should be — focused on infusing the front seven with talent and keeping Andrew Luck protected first. I don’t, however, doubt that Ballard may have him in his head and getting consideration at No. 6.

It appears that there could be more movement in the top 10 of the NFL Draft too, so, at this point anything could truly happen and it shouldn’t surprise any of us.