Scouting Report: Denzel Ward

Submitted by Magnus on November 20th, 2012 at 1:59 PM

Based on the film that Denzel Ward released yesterday, I put together a scouting report on him.  I have to say that I'm pretty darn impressed with what I saw out of him.  He's a very good athlete, but he's a little bit raw.  I don't think I've seen a Michigan player with his combination of size and athleticism, so he's difficult to compare to other Wolverines.



November 20th, 2012 at 2:08 PM ^

Shows occasional tendency to be a waist bender

What does that mean exactly in terms of what the defender can do to a waist bender? Does a waist bender have issues with balance?


November 20th, 2012 at 2:18 PM ^

Yeah, if guys lean too far forward and get off balance, they can get out of position when trying to protect against the pass rush.  That can also be a problem in the run game, because your drive blocking power comes from your legs; without the proper body lean and power angles, you won't get much movement in the run game.  That doesn't affect him much with his high school opponents, but it will at the next level.


November 20th, 2012 at 2:33 PM ^

This seems like a common criticism of many high school OL prospects.  If you have followed other OL prospects with this same issue as they progressed through college, does this problem temd to persist, or is it something that can be coached away easily.  I would have to imagine that a kid that just started playing FB would be easier to coach this out of, as he has had less time to develop a strong tendency towards this styleof play, but I would be curious if you (or anyone else) has a thought on this issue.


November 20th, 2012 at 2:55 PM ^

I haven't followed the careers of many offensive linemen with this problem, because most of Michigan's offensive linemen haven't had much of an issue with this during the last few recruiting classes.  There were some guys from the mid-2000s who struggled with it in high school and never got on the field, so it's unclear how much that had to do with their lack of playing time.

Generally, I think it's not a huge problem if you get a guy who's athletic enough.  Guys who can bend their knees effectively sometimes are guys who can do it all the time; it's just a matter of choosing to do it or not.

HOWEVER, William Campbell was a guy who had a problem with pad level/knee bend coming out of high school, and he has struggled with that throughout his career.  He has improved over the past couple seasons, but it's been a long process.  He's another guy I wish would have redshirted in 2009, because then he'd almost certainly be coming back in 2013 with another year to work with good coaching.


November 20th, 2012 at 2:14 PM ^

As a hockey goalie, it's similar. You want your shoulders low (pad level!) and the best way to do that is to bend your knees. Gives you a strong base, ability to move laterally, etc.

When people get tired, they bend at the waist instead. Means they're not nearly as powerful and don't have the ability to move.


November 20th, 2012 at 2:14 PM ^

It means your center of gravity is off, making it easier for you to lose balance and leverage against a defender. You want to bend in your knees, a much more stable and athletic stance. It may be tough for Ward to learn considering bending at the waist is much easier and he's probably still able to dominate HS competition. But it's going to be essential he learn to bend with the lower body considering how tall he is.


November 20th, 2012 at 2:42 PM ^

I read your scouting report, and I have to say: Chantel Jennings is cute. Very excited about this kids potential, now. Not surprised the coaches offered him at all. Great start to the next class with him and Ferns.


November 20th, 2012 at 7:55 PM ^

Thank you Magnus, I appreciate the "common man" giving his fair view of up and coming prospects rather than being forced to listen to the know-nothing talking heads from 24/7 and the like.  You're contributions and analysis are every bit as reliable as theirs and far more tailored to Michigan fans' interests. 

Thank you.


November 21st, 2012 at 9:53 AM ^

Solid assessment. If LTT and Ward have sig upside with some development from UM coaching, is it fair to conclude the coaches are confident with Magnuson/Braden/Bars/Kalis/etc during the interim?

I think a huge advantage with quality depth is the flexibility for coaches to recruit "projects" for their high potential. Another reason to applaud Hoke is his short-term results while clearly assembling a roster that could be tremendous in a couple of years.


November 21st, 2012 at 10:18 AM ^

I don't think the coaches will hurry Tuley-Tillman or Ward onto the field.  They're not otherworldly talents that need to play as freshmen.  I do believe the coaches should be pretty confident in the guys they have, although I think our offensive line will still struggle next year when some of our starters are redshirt freshmen.