Two years ago today, undrafted rookie cornerback Charvarius Ward was fighting for a roster spot in training camp with the Dallas Cowboys. Before the start of the 2018 season, he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs and didn’t play for most of the schedule.
Now, Ward believes he’s headed towards being a top-shelf NFL cornerback — and he is displaying the confidence needed to be one.
“I feel like I can be one of the best young corners in the game, as long as I keep believing in myself and having confidence in myself off the field and on the field. The sky’s the limit for me... I’m going to earn my respect this year.”
The bold proclamation comes after an impressive performance in his second NFL season.
He started all 19 games in the championship year, allowing just a 73.6 passer rating when targeted. Among qualified NFL cornerbacks in 2019, that result finished 16th. He only allowed one touchdown in the regular season and led the Chiefs cornerbacks in pass breakups.
To follow through on his big statement, Ward is putting an emphasis on creating turnovers.
“That’s one of my biggest things, getting the ball this year, Interceptions, stripping the ball. Instead of batting the ball I’m going with two hands trying to high point the ball and get interceptions. Just trying to make turnovers and get the ball back to Pat (Mahomes), Tyreek (Hill), Sammy (Watkins), Travis (Kelce) and all those guys.”
Ward is one of multiple, talented young players in the defensive secondary. Not only does he believe he doesn’t get the individual respect, but he also thinks the overall group deserves more credit.
“Our group of [defensive backs], we[‘re] some dogs. We believe in each other, we know what we can do. Not too many people around the league give us a lot of respect because we don’t have too many big names outside of Tyrann [Mathieu].”
Speaking of all-pro safety Tyrann Mathieu, Ward touched upon the support Mathieu has given him in the short time they’ve been teammates.
“He’s one of my biggest supporters, from day one. He was always telling me, ‘I know you can play corner. You got the size, you got the ability, you just got to know the mental part of the game and once you learn that, your game will go to a whole different level.’
“As far as him prepping me, it’s mostly in the classroom.”
After multiple seasons of being the inexperienced player in the unit, Ward will now have one of the highest snap totals in the cornerback room — especially for the first quarter of the season. He is embracing everything that comes with being a team’s lead, lockdown cornerback.
“Going out there and taking on the best receiver every week. Not getting burnt, not giving up touchdowns, challenging every throw. Catching interceptions, forcing turnovers, all of that. Just being a big dog, being a leader in the cornerback room and the secondary. Cause I know [cornerback Bashaud] Breeland’s not going to be around for the first four games so I have to step up my leadership. I just got to be a top dog.”
Ward may have reminded anyone that had forgotten about Breeland’s potential suspension amid the chaotic offseason. As of this writing, the league has yet to announce a suspension.
Ward’s trait of self-confidence is critical at the cornerback position. Most of the elite at that position are alpha-males that have more belief in themselves than they probably should have. Ward got the point across about having that same confidence in himself.
“I just believe in myself and my ability. I know what I can do on the field I just have to show the world, show the coaches, show you guys, show the media, show the fans, show everybody that I can be a lockdown cornerback. I think I can, I know I can and I’m going to do it.”
Ward’s contract is up after 2020. If he follows through on his statement, he will be a very wealthy man by this time next year.