Being an NFL quarterback prospect sometimes depends on the eyeball test.
For example, Clemson’s 6-foot-3 Deshaun Watson, two-time winner of the Davey O’Brien Award, averaged 306.2 passing yards per game last season. Houston’s 5-foot-11 Greg Ward Jr. averaged 296.4 passing yards per game.
Watson might be drafted in the first round.
Ward likely won’t throw a pass professionally. At least not from the quarterback position.
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With an eye on an NFL roster spot, Ward has moved from quarterback to receiver in hopes of catching the attention of league scouts as the draft approaches.
“Without a doubt, I can play quarterback in this league,” said Ward, who completed 68 percent of his passes (sixth-best in the nation) as a senior, while throwing for 3,557 yards and 22 touchdowns. “But I won’t be able to gain as much weight as they want me to and I don’t look like the prototype QB that they want.
“But I’m a football player, so it’s no problem for me.”
Former teammate Howard Wilson agrees.
“A lot of people don’t realize he played receiver as a freshman at Houston,” Wilson said. “He was one of the hardest guys I ever had to practice against, too. He’ll have no trouble at all in the NFL.”
Ward caught 10 passes as a freshman for 95 yards and one score and 15 more his sophomore season for 139 yards and a touchdown before making the move to quarterback.
At quarterback, the 184-pound Ward finished his career with 27 wins, 52 passing touchdowns and 39 rushing touchdowns as one of the nation’s most elusive dual-threat playmakers.
Like Wilson, Ward was invited to the NFL combine and drew interest from the Houston Texans, among others. He wasn’t able to do any drills because of an ankle injury. He only participated in the bench press. However, he is scheduled to participate in Houston’s Pro Day on Monday. The NFL draft is April 27-29 in Philadelphia.
According to Ward, though, there are some challenges to making the conversion to receiver.
“Getting my footwork down, understanding routes again and working to get in and out of breaks is something I’m working on daily,” said Ward, who has been training at Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney. “Obviously, I work on catching the ball every day and don’t have any problem there.
“Now it’s just getting my speed improved. Getting down that ability to go from 0 to 60 and stopping on a dime. I know it’s a faster game at this level and it’s why I worked at MJP this off-season.”
2017 NFL draft
Here’s a look at the NFL draft first-round order. The draft is April 27-29 in Philadelphia.
2. San Francisco
5. Tennessee (from Los Angeles Rams)
6. New York Jets
7. Los Angeles Chargers
11. New Orleans
12. Cleveland (from Philadelphia)
14. Philadelphia (from Minnesota)
19. Tampa Bay
23. New York Giants
27. Kansas City
29. Green Bay
32. New Orleans (from New England)