The Oakland Raiders officially announced via Twitter that Jihad Ward rejoined the team today.
When general manager Reggie McKenzie chose Jihad Ward in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, most agreed he was a developmental project coming out of the University of Illinois. However, as evident from the constant outcry on social media it would be easy to forget that fact as Ward has yet to demonstrate he was worth that pick hence why many aren’t exactly celebrating in the streets as Ward returns to the team.
It is only more maddening when you stop and remember that so many other talented players were left on the board including Derrick Henry and Michael Thomas.
In 2 years of college, he collected 81 tackles and ten sacks. His first year in the league he managed 30 tackles and no sacks in 13 starts for the Silver and Black. At 6’5″, 297 pounds he has the size and the athletic ability to play and become a good defensive end in the NFL. On July 6th, it was announced that Ward underwent foot surgery, which put him out of action until mid-August. Now coming off that injury, hopefully, he can help add some strength to the middle of a struggling defense, which besides Khalil Mack, has had a hard time getting pressure on Goff.
"Your first year … you’re thinking too much. Now it’s like 'OK, I get it now.'"
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) August 23, 2017
There are more questions than answers at this point in Ward’s career, though under the guidance of the Raiders strength and training program we can only assume he will return stronger.
What impact if any, will he have on the field? So far he has had an obscure professional career in the NFL. He is the only one who can silence his critics, but he has to stay on the field to do so.