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Browns choose CB Denzel Ward with No. 4 selection

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The Cleveland Browns have kicked off the first round of the draft with a pair of surprises.

After making quarterback Baker Mayfield the first-overall pick on Thursday night, the team bypassed pass-rusher Bradley Chubb in favor of cornerback Denzel Ward.

The Ohio State cover man ranked as Daniel Jeremiah's fourth-ranked prospect and a player who should step in to help Cleveland's secondary right away.

"In press coverage, he is patient and he'll catch and re-route before settling on the receivers and mirroring down the field," Jeremiah, the NFL Media draft guru, wrote. "In off coverage, he is a fluid mover and explodes out of his plant to drive on the football. He is very twitched up. Ward's ball awareness is excellent -- he can locate and high-point the ball down the field."

The 5-foot-11, 187-pound Ward isn't oversized, but offers next-level quickness and drew comparisons from Jeremiah as a "young Adam Jones."

The Browns defense allowed the NFL's highest completion percentage and passer rating in 2017. Ward joins a secondary that now includes a fleet of new faces including T.J. Carrie, E.J. Gaines along with Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Jamar Taylor. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported this week that Taylor could be moved in a trade.

"The more I watch him the more I grow to appreciate him," one scout told Bob McGinn of BobMcGinnFootball.com. "There are times he is (great) at the ball, and there are times he is not. He will turn and track the ball. He's got great, great feet and great change of direction. Willing tackler."

Browns fans undoubtedly will track the players Cleveland ignored -- newly anointed Jets quarterback Sam Darnold and Chubb, picked fifth-overall by the Broncos -- but Ward was the consensus top cornerback in this year's draft.

Time will tell how general manager John Dorsey's first two picks look on paper and, more importantly, on the field.

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