One of the top strong safeties in this year’s draft won’t be participating at the combine on Tuesday.
Jimmie Ward of Northern Illinois has been ruled out of the combine by doctors after his medical exam in Indianapolis. Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reports that Ward has a foot injury that is believed to be minor as Ward was working out and preparing for the combine without any indication that anything was wrong with his foot.
Ward was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the top collegiate defensive back and had a strong Senior Bowl to bolster his spot at the top of the rankings at his position. Assuming his foot issue is indeed minor and he’s able to participate in pro day and other workouts, Ward should still be coming off the board in the first few rounds.
While Ward was a strong safety at NIU, he showed the ability to cover receivers in the slot as well. That versatility could help him when teams set up their boards and rank Ward against free safeties like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama and Calvin Pryor of Louisville.