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2016 NFL Draft: Is Jihad Ward possibility for the Arizona Cardinals in Round 1?

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A questionable name comes up as a possible "sleeper".

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals fans have spent the last many weeks seeing Alabama center pop up week in and week out as a pick in mock drafts to go to the Cardinals. Most of the picks projected have been pretty predictable -- pass rusher, Kelly, a safety, a cornerback. Some even go with intriguing defensive line picks -- Robert Nkemdiche, Chris Jones, Jonathan Bullard.

But Peter King threw a name out there that seems to come out of nowhere.

In his one mock draft this year, he has the Cardinals taking Kelly (yes, boring), but then he wrote there is a dark-horse possibility there at 29 -- Illinois defensive end Jihad Ward.


Ward certainly looks the part at 6-5 and 297 pounds. But he had an awful senior season at Illinois/ He didn't test particularly well at the Combine.

He is a guy who has been discussed a lot on the NFL Draft Breakdown podcast by Seth Cox and Justin Higdon. The hype there seems to be around Ward is unwarranted and Cox has said on that show and on Revenge of the Birds Radio he is basically undraftable.

However, Cox also is hearing that Ward is in the top 40 on a lot of team boards.

In his two seasons at Illinois (he was a JUCO transfer), he combined for 5.5 sacks and 13 tackles for losses. That's not all that impressive.

Of all the defensive line prospects in this class, he is the sleeper pick?  He is versatile, but is he going to make an impact at the pro level?