With the decision to pass on the top quarterback prospects in the first three rounds, Tampa Bay decides to select Washington State's Ward with the 112th pick in the draft. While Ward has flown under the radar all season, the Cougars' QB1 has thrived in his Junior season.
For reference, Ward has completed 323-485 (66.7%) pass attempts for 3,736 yards, 25 touchdowns, and seven interceptions, equating to a 145.4 passer rating. In addition, Ward has been a competent rusher on the ground, totaling 144 yards and eight touchdowns on 120 carries.
Before transferring to Washington State in 2022, Ward committed to Incarnate World straight out of high school as his only collegiate offer. During his two-year tenure as the Cardinals' QB1, Ward set Incarnate World school records in passing yardage and passing touchdowns, totaling 6,908 yards and 71 touchdowns in just 19 games.
During the 2021 season, his first full season at Incarnate World, Ward completed 65.1% of his passes for 4,648 yards, 47 touchdowns, and 11 games of 300+ yards. As a result, Ward managed to lead the Cardinals to an all-time best record of 10-3, while being named the the Southland Offensive Player of the Year and earning second-team FCS All-American honors.
Standing at 6'2" and 223 pounds, Ward's physical stature has made him one of the most durable QB prospects in this year's draft class. Over the past two years, Ward hasn't missed a single game to an injury, and only spent some time in the medical tent in Washington State's 42-39 week 11 win against Cal, a one-off occurence.
Even with his uncommon size, Ward is extremely atheltic and is a true dual-threat at the QB position. As shown throughout the 2023 season, Ward has been able to scramble off-tackle and extend plays with his legs when plays break down. Similarly, Ward has been able to manipulate defenses on designed QB runs, ranging from read-options to QB-power-and-draw plays.
With this said, Ward’s decision-making can be best described as questionable, as he can be prone to making questionable throws into double coverage. Even with multiple examples of good pocket awareness and maneuverability, Ward still struggles to evade pass rushers and typically get in trouble behind the line of scrimmage with his decisions.