Vikings Add Another LSU Tiger

Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers cornerback Jay Ward (16) against the Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

On Thursday and Friday, the Minnesota Vikings added WR Jordan Addison and CB Mekhi Blackmon from USC.

Fast forward to Saturday, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah wasn’t finished tapping big schools for rookies, this time drafting safety Jay Ward from LSU.

Vikings Add Another LSU Tiger

Ward is a hybrid type who can also play cornerback and could be on deck for slot assignments in 2023 and 2024.

Add Another LSU
Apr 17, 2021; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers cornerback Jay Ward (5) tackles LSU Tigers running back Tyrion Davis-Price (3) during the first half of the annual Purple and White spring game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports.

Before the Ward selection, Adofo-Mensah possessed the 119th pick in Round 4 but traded back with the Kansas City Chiefs, stockpiling the ticket that would draft Ward at No. 134 and an additional 5th-Round pick in 2024. The Chiefs selected safety Chamarri Conner from Virginia Tech.

Ward is known for his motor, on-the-field awareness, and positional flexibility. He’s 6’1″ and 188 pounds, posting a 4.55 forty-yard dash at the 2023 NFL Combine.

Oct 9, 2021; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson (1) runs the ball against LSU Tigers safety Jay Ward (5) during the second quarter at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports.

Regarding his depth chart placement, the next four months will be used by fans to determine if Ward nestles in as a safety, cornerback, or true crossover between positions. Minnesota hired Brian Flores in February as the new defensive coordinator, replacing one-year skipper Ed Donatell, and Flores adores players who can “do both” in the secondary.

Ward was listed as a 4th-Round value by most credible draft pundits, so he was drafted right where expected.

Jan 4, 2022; Houston, TX, USA; LSU Tigers safety Jay Ward (5) runs onto the field before playing against the Kansas State Wildcats in the 2022 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports.

The Draft Network‘s Keith Sanchez described Ward during the build-up to the event, “Although Ward is a former cornerback, against the run from the safety position he has a physical presence in that he makes full-speed collisions with ball carriers. Ward does a good job of closing from distance to make plays at or near the line scrimmage.”

“Ward also does a good job of disputing quick plays like screens by quickly shedding blockers and getting to the ball carrier. Ward plays with a physical presence that outweighs his actual size and body profile,” Sanchez added.

Nov 26, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Evan Stewart (1) runs the ball against LSU Tigers safety Jay Ward (5) and safety Greg Brooks Jr. (3) during the first quarter at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

These are the Vikings current safeties after the Ward pick:

S1: Harrison Smith
S2: Lewis Cine
S3: Camryn Bynum
S4: Josh Metellus
S5: Theo Jackson
S6: Jay Ward

The Vikings defense ranked 31st in yards allowed in 2022 despite a 13-4 record. Defense was at the forefront of offseason priorities, and the club has drafted defensively with two of its first three picks.

Ward will turn 23 in July.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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