The Eagles enter the 2022 NFL season with a slew of wide receivers on the roster. Can Greg Ward earn a spot on the Eagles’ final 2022 roster?
The starting core seems to be likely set. The Eagles acquired superstar AJ Brown on draft night, to pair with the brilliant 2021 rookie standout DeVonta Smith and emerging slot speedster Quez Watkins. They also added depth to the rotation with the signing of former Indianapolis Colt Zach Pascal.
The Eagles also have other intriguing prospects on the roster. They still have 2020 first-round disappointment Jalen Reagor, who is likely on his final chance with the team. They also Devon Allen, who happens to now own the third-fastest 110m hurdle time in history.
Greg Ward must show that he deserves to be in the mix as a depth piece on this roster. His disappointing season last year was indicative of a receiver room that was thin and needed immediate injection of talent. This has pushed him off the depth chart.
Greg Ward’s College Career
Greg Ward was not a wide receiver in college.
In fact, Ward was a QB for Houston through his four years of college. The four-year quarterback threw for 8,704 yards in his four seasons and ended his tenure with 52 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.
Ward showed flashes as a speedster during his collegiate career, rushing for a total of 2,381 yards and 39 touchdowns in his four seasons. Furthermore, he even caught passes in his first two seasons, ending with 25 catches and 228 yards. He was a do-it-all prospect that evidently had the tools to play across multiple skill positions.
Despite wrapping his college career in 2016, Ward was not drafted and was instead acquired as an undrafted free agent in 2017. He spent some time in the AAF, rejoining in 2019 to begin his NFL rookie season. As a result, Ward will begin the 2022 NFL Season as a 27-year-old veteran, despite entering just his fourth season in the league.
His Early Impact In The NFL
Ward’s rookie season was really solid.
Despite playing just seven games, Ward showed some promise. He appeared in just 308 snaps on offense and had 254 yards from 28 receptions. He seemed to be an inexpensive depth piece that flashed some real potential as a speedy receiving option. Ward ended his rookie season with a PFF receiving grade of 72.1, which was incredibly sound.
Ward’s second season saw him become a necessary receiver in the decimated wideout room. As injuries and turnovers completely dismantled the Eagles’ offense, the second-year UDFA prospect became a necessary part of Carson Wentz’s short passing game. Ward had 53 receptions on 79 targets and was able to score six touchdowns.
What was concerning was how he racked up the 419 yards receiving that season. Ward managed just 7.9 yards per reception. His average depth of target was just 5.6 yards, and he was mediocre after the catch, accumulating just 3.1 YAC/reception. His PFF receiving grade plummeted to just a 58.6 and he seemed to be a necessary depth piece instead of a thankful one.
Alternatively, he was producing, albeit not in the most efficient manner. He still flashed glimpses of speed and elusiveness that could make him a solid receiver in the NFL. Eagles fans hoped that he could be a gem cut from an extremely tough season.
The 2021 Season
Unfortunately, that seems to not be the case.
The 2021 NFL Season was really harsh on Greg Ward.
He failed to find a role on a team that had just two wideouts accumulate more than three hundred yards through the air. Furthermore, he received just eleven targets all season. While three of those ended in touchdowns, two were dropped. It was clear that he fell out of favor with a coaching staff that were prioritizing heavier sets in the run game.
Ward also saw his receiving grade fall further. Albeit with limited opportunities, Ward’s PFF receiving grade fell to 55.6. His greatest asset now as a speed option from the slot may be just too highly populated on a roster that contains Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal.
Unfortunately for him, he may lose even more snaps this year to the settling core ahead of him on the depth chart. He had some really solid flashes last season, catching some tough contested balls and playing with terrific passion.
Unfortunately for Ward, he is likely to lose more snaps this year. The core ahead of him is settling into their roles, and he is sliding back in the depth chart. He displayed flashes of brilliance with his ability to continue to separate in the scramble drill, catch contested balls and find space in the end zone.
While not overtly productive, Ward’s 2021 season provided valuable moments. His play should be enough to galvanize another year as a depth piece that receives approximately fifteen targets in the 2022 NFL Season.
Does Ward Still Have A Place On The Roster?
Greg Ward is not a household name. Nor is he about to become a starter on the depth chart.
That being said, Ward’s penchant for turning limited opportunities into end zone celebrations may help him to stay on the roster. He has a nose for touchdowns and navigating tight spaces, and his versatility of positional skills may help him be utilized as a gadget player. He has three passing attempts in the last two years, thanks in no small part to his collegiate quarterback experience.
Ward’s ability to operate as a runner, receiver, passer, and return man is incredibly useful to a run-heavy offense. His presence on the field will allow Sirianni to leverage disguise and the threat of trick plays to paralyze the more aggressive defenses of the NFL.
While Ward may not be an integral part of the offense and have a limited ceiling, he can be utilized as a steady depth piece for this roster. He can catch some contested balls, throw the occasional trick pass and run jet sweeps with his speedy shiftiness. His skill set is varied, and he should be given upward of twenty touches a year throughout offense and special teams to create.
If all else fails, I’d argue that you don’t cut a guy who can make a plain nasty back catch like this. That is too valuable.
What do you think? Should Greg Ward remain on the Eagles’ roster? Let us know in the comments below.