2024 NFL Draft: Cam Ward Would Give Raiders Unique Talent at QB

Cam Ward Would Give Vegas Unique Talent At QB

Last week, Drake Maye kicked off our preliminary look at the 2024 NFL Draft class. The deep-dive at quarterback continues as Washington State signal-caller Cam Ward takes center stage. Could he be the next franchise cornerstone for the Las Vegas Raiders?

Cam Ward NFL Draft Profile

Ward began his football career as a zero-star recruit with only one scholarship offer. Eric Morris and Incarnate Word came knocking, and Ward made the most of this opportunity. He not only seized the starting role as a true freshman but posted program records in only six games. The young signal-caller developed more as a passer in year two, increasing his completion percentage by five.

Morris departed for Washington State following the team’s 2021 campaign. Ward’s stellar play at the FCS level granted him a four-star rating in the transfer portal, allowing a reunion in Pullman. In the first season with the Cougars, Ward proved that his talent could translate against stiffer competition. He posted some impressive stats in 2022, even carrying his squad to victory multiple times.

The Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason but make no mistake – Las Vegas is still in the market for a long-term quarterback. Perhaps Cam Ward is the answer.

Advanced Stats From 2022

•21 Turnover-Worthy Plays

Ward is best described as “reckless” when a play breaks down. While most of his special throws come off-schedule, so does nearly every turnover-worthy pass. He must find a happy-medium between the extremes.

•31.5 PFF Grade On Deep Passes

Not many quarterbacks have a high completion percentage on throws 20+ yards downfield, but Ward barely completes one-fourth of such passes. Four interceptions cloud the seven big-time throws, resulting in an abysmal grade from 2022.

•46 Sacks Taken

The offensive line deserves its fair share of blame here, but Ward does not help out as much as you might expect. Sure, plays are extended and sometimes turn into positive gains, but more often than not, Ward flees a pocket too early or holds the ball too long.

•88.3 PFF Grade On Medium Passes

Where Ward truly excels is attacking the middle portion of the defense. He rarely puts the ball in harm’s way and displays an advanced understanding of attacking zones. Few passers in the country possess his accuracy and timing from 10-19 yards.

•78.8% Adjusted Completion Percentage Inside Clean Pocket

Ward is a marksman when given time to work. He fits tight windows and places the ball where only his receivers can make plays. Give the 6-foot-2 quarterback time to work, and he will carve a defense like a Thanksgiving Day turkey.

Why The Raiders Should Consider Ward

Arm Talent – Ward can sling the ball from sideline to sideline, endzone to endzone with proper mechanics. His ability to manipulate arm slots is something most new-age quarterbacks utilize, but Ward is particularly special in this area. The release is lightning-quick, thanks to a compact throwing motion.

Creativity – Eric Morris can coach, but it is Ward’s talent that brings the vision to reality. He gives a play caller the freedom to mix in rollouts, designed runs, and other plays used to stretch the opposing defense. Ward is a ‘hero ball’ extraordinaire, for better or worse. The Raiders should trust Josh McDaniels to incorporate this creativity into his scheme.

Athleticism – Ward will not break records at the NFL Combine, but he is plenty athletic to be a dual-threat option on Sundays. He only runs as a last resort, but flexes the tools to throw off one foot on the move.

Coachable – Ward only received one offer out of high school, but his ability to accept coaching and integrate it into his game is something NFL teams covet. Uber-talented players fail all the time; it is the ones like Ward that ultimately break through.

Why The Raiders Could Pass

Mechanics – Ward is incredibly inconsistent with his footwork. There is a lot of wasted motion in the pocket, even with him rarely being asked to perform the traditional five-step drop. Oftentimes, Ward takes one step and then starts playing Dance Dance Revolution.

Ball Placement Downfield – Ward has plenty of arm to make throws downfield, but his ball placement needs much improvement. Most of his turnover-worthy plays come from under-throws, as Ward can be guilty of putting too little air under his passes.

Pocket Feel – Ward does not sense pressure well. He surveys the field far too long and leaves the offensive line hung out to dry. Other times, Ward evaded a perfectly fine pocket and forces his blockers to adjust on the fly.

Is Cam Ward A Fit With Vegas?

The 2023 college football season will tell us all we need to know about Cam Ward. He is no longer under the guidance of Eric Morris, but Washington State hired budding star Ben Arbuckle as the replacement at offensive coordinator. If the Cougar quarterback can clean up his footwork and display better touch on passes downfield, he should go early in the 2024 NFL Draft.

As for the Raiders, Ward would present a high-upside swing behind center. If Vegas can stay competitive in 2023, it would likely take them out of the running for Caleb Williams and Drake Maye. The next group of prospects is begging for someone to claim the QB3 mantle; Ward is ready to take it.

McDaniels’ scheme is not much different from what Ward ran in college. The fourth-year player is deathly-accurate on short-to-intermediate passes, including a pristine 81.4 adjusted completion percentage inside 10 yards.

With the Raiders, Ward can do quick-hitting throws while he develops his untapped potential further downfield. It might take a little longer to develop him, relative to others in the class, but no one — and I mean no one — possesses a higher ceiling. He is worth the flyer in 2024 if Las Vegas picks further down in the draft order.

*Top Photo: Young Kwak / The Associated Press

Las Vegas Raiders Stand Alone As Only Team In NFL To House More Than One Player With “Elite” Grades In Back-To-Back Seasons

Join The Ramble Email List

error: Nice Try!
Subscribe to RaiderRamble

Get updates from RaiderRamble via email:

Join 6,157 other subscribers