Nov 20, 2013; Toledo, OH, USA; Northern Illinois Huskies safety Jimmie Ward (15) warms up before the game against the Toledo Rockets at Glass Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay Packers 2014 NFL Draft Profiles: N. Illinois SS Jimmie Ward

NOTE: In the days leading up to the draft, Dairyland Express will profile the players who could potentially be coming to the Green Bay Packers with the 21st overall pick in the first round. Today, Northern Illinois strong safety Jimmie Ward.

Jimmie Ward would be something of a reach at the No. 21 overall pick, but he would fill a definite need for the Green Bay Packers at safety.

Ward had seven interceptions as a senior at Northern Illinois last season and had 11 in his four years with the Huskies. He also led the Huskies with 95 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and had a sack to go with 17 passes defensed and a forced fumble.

He’s a little smaller than you’d like at a shade shorter than 5-foor-11 and 193 pounds, but he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at his pro day and the small frame coupled with an aggressive style of play leads to some concerns about his durability. In fact, he did not participate at the combine because of a fracture in his foot, but he missed just one game due to injury in four years at Northern Illinois.

Several scouts and coaches have some concerns about his maturity, however.

He is considered above-average in coverage and run support, but will get caught peeking into the backfield sometimes and can be late to diagnose, forcing him into recovery mode in coverage. He’s stronger in zone coverage than he is in man.

Ward would be a long shot to go this high; Scouts Inc. has him rated third overall at safety and 39th overall, but some mock drafts had the Packers making this reach. It’s not likely, though.

Previous profiles: Louisville SS Calvin Pryor, Ohio State OLB Ryan Shazier, Alabama ILB C.J. Mosley.

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