Greg Ward Jr.’s football prowess isn’t a new thing to football fans in the state of Texas. First, it was as a high school senior quarterback playing in Tyler Texas. There, Ward Jr.threw for over 4,200 yards and added over 860 yards rushing. He would later take his talents to the University of Houston. In his junior and senior seasons as the Cougars starting quarterback, he combined to throw for over 6,300 yards and had 43 touchdown passes. As a runner in those seasons, he combined to rush for over 1,600 yards and had 31 rushing touchdowns. Fast forward to the present, Greg Ward Jr. is starting to make a name for himself as a wide receiver for the San Antonio Commanders.
San Antonio Commanders Greg Ward Jr. Making Most of his Opportunity
The AAF (Alliance of American Football) was created for a player like Greg Ward Jr. While Ward Jr. was a dynamic NCAA quarterback, the chances of him making an NFL roster as a quarterback were slim to none. If Ward Jr. was going to make an NFL roster, it was going to have to be at another position.
He went undrafted in the 2017 NFL draft. He would eventually sign as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles. While he was cut by the Eagles in September of that season, he would go on to be signed to the Eagles practice squad. He spent the full season on the practice squad but was never elevated to the 53 man roster. He spent camp with the Eagles the next season but was later cut in September.
Out of a job and no game tape as a wide receiver for NFL scouts to view, Greg Ward Jr. found himself at a crossroads. He could have found a job in the CFL, but that wasn’t his goal. He wanted to make it in the NFL.
Luckily for Ward Jr., the creation of the AAF gave him the chance to showcase his wide receiver skills. So far, he is making the most of his opportunities.
Given a Chance
Commanders head coach Mike Riley’s last stop as a head coach was at the University of Nebraska. With his time in Lincoln and in the college football game, he knew Greg Ward Jr.’s ability quite well. So the opportunity to add Ward Jr. and his big-play ability had to delight the veteran coach.
Ward Jr. couldn’t have picked a better offense to get adapted at playing the wide receiver position. The Commanders run a pass-heavy spread passing attack. This type of offense fits Ward Jr.’s skills perfectly. Commanders starting quarterback Logan Woodside loves to spread the ball around to his talented wide receivers. Because of the type of offense the Commanders are running, it is allowing Ward Jr. to take advantage of speed and get into open space quickly.
While his numbers, so far, aren’t eye-popping, 16 receptions for 153 yards, he is making plays. Still, fans need to remember, this is his first time playing wide receiver full-time since his sophomore season at the University of Houston. But so far, the transition is going as well as Ward Jr. and the Commanders could hope. He is starting to show the type of ability he displayed while a quarterback at Houston. As he gets more playing time, the chances of him becoming a contributing wide receiver will increase.
Swiss Army Knife
NFL scouts are consistently looking for players who can not only help out in one facet of the game but multiple ways as well. With that thinking, Greg Ward Jr. should be on their radars.
Along with his ascending ability as a wide receiver, Ward Jr. is also showing that he is a capable punt returner. This week he was named the AAF’s special team’s player of the week. In the Commanders 37-6 victory over the Atlanta Legends, Ward Jr. returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown. That type of ability on special teams not only will help him get signed by an NFL team, it will also increase his chances in making a roster.
NFL offenses are adapting a lot of the same concepts that college offenses currently using. They are looking for wide receivers, no matter the size, that can make plays in open space. Ward Jr. is showing that he could be that type of wide receiver.
The slot receiver position is a very important position in these types of offenses. Ward Jr. has shown in the AAF he is capable of not only playing the slot receiver but could thrive at it. Recently, the Green Bay Packers allowed their veteran slot receiver Randall Cobb to depart as a free agent. Ward Jr. could be a solid option in replacing Cobb. If he keeps developing at a slot receiver, along with his ability as a punt returner, the Packers might want to think about looking at adding him.
Greg Ward Jr. is finally getting a chance to become a professional wide receiver. So far, it appears he is making the most of his opportunity. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him on an NFL roster next fall.
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