Throughout the 2017 season, the Ohio State Buckeyes primarily used cornerback Denzel Ward in man coverage. Man coverage can be described as a cornerback following his assignment all around the field for the majority of the game. For instance, if Ward’s assignment lines up on the right side of the field near the sideline boundary, he will line up on the same side one to three yards away from the line of scrimmage. Once the play begins, Denzel has the option of choosing between two different techniques. Ward can turn his body sideways to look towards the middle of the field by taking a step to the right with his left leg. The method allows Denzel Ward to be in the position to run forward in case his assignment is told to run a route into the middle of the field.
On the other hand, Denzel Ward can choose to put his right hand on the left shoulder of the assignment. The technique allows Denzel to push the wide receiver towards the sideline taking away his ability to move horizontally while simultaneously giving the quarterback a smaller window to throw the ball. However, when Ward is covering his assignment in the slot, he can only backpedal because he does not know the receiver’s direction. Once the receiver chooses a path, he will stop back peddling and go towards the path. For instance, if the assignment is in the slot on the left side of the field and chooses to go to the sideline, Ward will break towards the sideline by taking a step to the right with his left leg.
As a result of this, the NFL team who selects Denzel Ward should primarily use him as a man coverage cornerback. This is because Ward has played man coverage for so long that it is the fastest way for him to be successful. On the other hand, if the NFL team wants him to transition into playing zone coverage, they would need to give him anywhere between a couple of games to a full season; to gain a feel for when is the right time to pass off the receiver to a teammate, focus on reading the quarterback’s eyes or retreat to his area.