Former Texas Tech receiver Eric Ward’s college career was defined by his electric play-making ability, but he isn’t making much a spark with the National Football League. In fact, he doesn’t seem to be registering on the NFL’s radar at all.
Ward’s average size and 40-yard dash time aren’t the numbers NFL scouts typically like to see. On pro day Ward was recorded at just 5-feet, 11 inches and weighing 205 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash time in 4.68 seconds, the same time as his 266-pound teammate, Jace Amaro. Ward simply doesn’t posses the size and speed NFL scouts seek.
However, Ward leaves Tech in the company of a current NFL star. He and 49ers wide receiver Micheal Crabtree are the only players in school history with back-to-back seasons of 11 or more touchdown catches. He and Crabtree also are the only two players in school history to rank among the top five in career receptions, career receiving yards and career touchdown receptions. Not bad company.
Regardless of his lack of size and speed on paper, Ward reeled in 31 total touchdowns for the Red Raiders and was the go-to receiver for three different quarterbacks throughout his time in Raiderland.
Ward is a play maker who’s more than capable of playing at the next level. He’s a smart and has a good work ethic. Throughout the 2011, 2012, and 2013 football seasons, Ward showed his ability to get open in space and make spectacular catches. Ward also played for two different head coaches, and emerged as a key player in both of their offenses.
Because of his height, Ward would be a good fit for a slot receiver position in the NFL. He would thrive in an air-based offense, much like he did in his years at Texas Tech. Ward’s talents would be well suited for the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, and perhaps even the Dallas Cowboys.
Yet because of Ward’s unremarkable numbers on paper, he’s likely to be a very late round draft pick, if he’s drafted at all.
Any team that does draft him or sign him as a free agent will be collecting a gem. Year after year un-drafted free agents or late round draft picks such as Arian Foster and Richard Sherman, emerge as some of the league’s top performers. Ward has potential to be the league’s next surprise superstar.