After an impressive senior season and a great performance at the Senior Bowl, Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois' most NFL ready player, has been touted as one of the best safeties in this years draft. However, Ward was forced to sit out at the NFL Combine just a few weeks ago with a foot injury. Today, after he completed his drills at NIU's pro day, we found out the severity of his injury and how it will ultimately affect his draft status.
Luckily for him, and NFL teams in need of a safety, it is not too serious, but will require surgery. A small stress fracture in his foot has been causing him problems and a minor surgery will repair the damage and have him back on the field in no time. The recovery time for his surgery is about 6-8 weeks and, with Ward scheduled to get it fixed sometime in the next week, he should be ready for the NFL draft with no harm done to his draft stock. A screw is likely to be inserted into his foot, but again, should not affect or alter his playing at all.
And that is good news for Ward, who ran the 40-yard dash twice today and had unofficial marks of 4.45 and 4.47. Ward also had a vertical jump of 38-inches, which would have tied first place among safeties at the combine, and a 10.5-inch broad jump. Following the drills Ward met with teams for more than two hours to discuss his future. He has all but secured at least a second round pick in May's draft with his last few outings, with some saying he could be a late first round pick.
However, Ward was not the only interesting story at NIU's pro day. Jordan Lynch, perhaps you remember him from this year's Heisman ceremony, also ran drills today. And just like at the Combine, Lynch ran drills for more than one position. At the Combine, Lynch ran quarterback and running back drills. Today, Lynch competed in QB drills but also joined Ward in defensive back drills.
Reports suggest Lynch did better today than he did in the East-West Shrine game and at the Combine, but still is not up to par for an NFL quarterback. He missed some throws and had a few wobbly ones, but looked more comfortable than at the Combine. Lynch also decreased his 40 time nearly a whole tenth, down to a 4.6. Lynch still believes he is a QB first, but it sounds like more teams are looking at him as a running back, or even a safety, before a QB. In either case, Lynch still looks like a late round pick, or possibly a free agent pickup.
We'll have to wait until May to see how the Lynch saga unfolds, but it seems that Ward will be at worst a day two pick, and Huskie fans have to be pretty happy with that.