Browns DC: Denzel Ward fills need for press cover CB

The Cleveland Browns eschewing pass rusher Bradley Chubb in favor of corner Denzel Ward was one of the semi-overlooked surprising aspects of last week's first round.

When Chubb fell to No. 4, most analysts expected the Browns to snatch up the consensus best pass rusher in a shallow draft at the position. Pairing Chubb with Myles Garrett would give the Browns a two-headed monster getting after the quarterback. Instead, Cleveland opted for a cornerback.

Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams insisted to The MMQB's Peter King that he preferred to add Ward over Chubb based off the team's need for a cover man.

"The reason is our need for a press cover cornerback," Williams said. "Denzel probably plays that position as well as anyone I've seen in college football in some time. We probably play the most press of any team in the league."

Ward was the stickiest cover corner in the draft, giving up a 52.9 passer rating when targeted and allowing just 35.1 percent of passes his way to be caught, per Pro Football Focus. Ward compares favorably to his former Ohio State teammate, and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, Marshon Lattimore.

Ward's ability to play press coverage wasn't the only rationale behind Williams' preference to take the DB over adding another pass rusher.

"There's another reason. I've got a video of 28 snaps of Myles Garrett pass-rushes last year where he gets within two steps or less of the quarterback when the ball comes out," Williams said. "Basically, we aren't covering long enough to let him get to the quarterback. Myles and others -- especially [defensive end] Emmanuel Ogbah -- will get more chances because of Denzel."

Williams added that his belief in Ogbah becoming that stud rusher opposite Garrett was a big reason the team didn't need to add a player like Chubb.

"Ogbah's a rising star in this league," Williams said. "He's got a chance to be Chubb."

Time will tell whether it was prudent for the Browns to pass on a talented pass rusher in favor of filling a bigger need on defense.

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