Coming out of West Columbia, Texas, Cameron Ward was a 0-star prospect that only received offers from Texas Southern and Incarnate Word. This is not surprising as in high school Ward completed a maximum of 72 passes for barely over 1,000 yards in any given season. He finished his high school football career with 2,261 passing yards and 17 TDs and 10 interceptions on only 267 passing attempts. Ward enrolled at Incarnate Word and won the starting job during his true freshman campaign. He finished the season completing 60% of his passes for 2,260 yards and 24 TDs compared to 4 interceptions. Incarnate Word having to postpone their season played a big role in Ward's development and ability to win the starting job. When the program returned for the 2021 season Ward took off. He improved his accuracy to a 65% completion percentage along with a staggering 4,648 passing yards with 47 TDs to only 10 INTs.
His efficient sophomore season led to Ward being the 18th most desired player in the transfer portal (just two spots behind former odds-on Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler). Ward chose to play his junior season at Washington State. A program that has evolved since Mike Leach became the head coach in 2012. Wazzou may be most recently known for former Jaguars quarterback Garner Minshew, but back in the day, they were a QB factory having developed at one time the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL and a quarterback who competed with Peyton Manning for the Heisman trophy and number one overall pick in the NFL Draft. Drew Bledsoe the first 100-million dollar man, and Ryan Leaf both had very different careers in the NFL, however, their pedigree coming out of Washington State can not be questioned.
With new coach Jack Dickert, Washington State will be pivoting its offense from the run and shoot offense to an air-raid offense. The main difference between these schemes is Washington State will now be utilizing a tight end in their offense where the run and shoot utilizes more spacing. The good news in this is that Ward's performance will be slightly more easy to translate to the NFL.
Cameron Ward moving from the Southland Conference, a Division 1 FCS program to a Power Five program may be the closest proxy we get to what Trey Lance may have looked like if he played against strong competition in college. The Southland Conference has produced Josh McCown, Jeremiah Trotter, and a bunch of names that you probably have never heard of.
In his spring game at Washington State, Ward was incredibly impressive. While spring game stats may be misleading as each program conducts and scores its game in distinctive ways, his performance was captivating. Let's take a look at what Ward did well and how this may translate to a potential NFL career. Ward tossed four TDs in his spring game and moved the ball down the field easily. He has a very quick release which the NFL loves, but a quick-release can lead to errantly high throws if he doesn't master his footwork. This is something that Ward did very well as you can see his hips and feet tied to his eyes as he worked through progressions. He has adequate mobility, enough to beat you on a broken play for a first down but not something that NFL defenses will have to gameplan for. His mobility is good enough though to avoid rushers and manipulate the pocket at a nearly elite level. He also showed off his arm strength with a 40-yard TD down the seam, a play he nearly missed in his progression, but he fired the ball with the power needed to make up for the delayed delivery.
Overall, Ward is a very interesting prospect but has a lot of improvement to make before being considered a sure-fire NFL prospect. He has a prototypical quarterback build at 6'3" and 225 lbs. and is a quicker processer with a live arm. Ward will need to keep up the efficiency he concluded his campaign at Incarnate Word for at least this season and likely his senior season. With the extra season of eligibility due to the COVID season Ward will have plenty of time to put his best traits on film and make a legitimate case to be an NFL quarterback. If you are in a deep devy (6+ rounds per season) or a devy-depleted draft I would strongly consider drafting Ward near the end of your draft. At the very least Ward will gain value as he produces Heisman-worthy stats in a quarterback-friendly offense that will offer a trade window during the season for a solid return on investment.