Why Did Denzel Ward Skip Cotton Bowl? What Are the Benefits?

John Rizzo

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Denzel Ward Skip Cotton Bowl

Denzel Ward’s decision to forgo the Cotton Bowl stirred both curiosity and understanding in the football community. 

As the top cornerback prospect in the 2018 NFL draft, Ward, a consensus All-American, faced the pivotal choice of prioritizing his professional aspirations over a collegiate bowl game. 

His stellar junior season at Ohio State, marked by exceptional defensive performances, catapulted him into the national spotlight. 

Ward’s calculated move to skip the Cotton Bowl, minutes before kickoff against USC, reflected a strategic commitment to NFL draft preparation and a conscious effort to mitigate injury risks. 

Supported by his coach, teammates, and a thorough consultation process, Ward’s choice exemplified a thoughtful and forward-thinking approach to his football career.

Why Did Denzel Ward Skip Cotton Bowl?

Denzel Ward’s decision to skip the Cotton Bowl stemmed from a combination of factors, primarily driven by his aspirations for a successful NFL career and concerns about the potential risks associated with playing in the bowl game.

Here are the key reasons behind Ward’s choice:

NFL Draft Preparation

Ward had established himself as a standout cornerback during his junior season at Ohio State, earning the status of a consensus All-American. 

As the top cornerback prospect in the 2018 NFL draft, he recognized the critical importance of dedicating sufficient time and effort to prepare for the professional level.

Following in the footsteps of former Ohio State cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley, who were both first-round picks in the 2017 NFL draft, Ward aimed to position himself as a top prospect in the upcoming draft.

Avoiding the Risk of Injury

Avoiding the Risk of Injury

The decision to skip the Cotton Bowl was fueled by a desire to minimize the potential risk of injury. 

Ward was cognizant of the physical demands and intensity of college football bowl games, and he wanted to enter the NFL draft process in peak physical condition.

By opting out of the bowl game, Ward aimed to reduce the likelihood of sustaining an injury that could impact his draft stock and future professional career. This strategic move allowed him to prioritize his health and longevity in the sport.

Consultation with Family, Coaches, and Mentors

Before deciding to skip the Cotton Bowl, Ward engaged in consultations with key figures in his life, including family members, coaches, and mentors. 

This thoughtful approach reflected his commitment to making a well-informed choice that aligned with his career goals and personal considerations.

The support and understanding of his family, coaching staff, and mentors played a crucial role in reinforcing the validity of Ward’s decision. 

This collaborative decision-making process demonstrated a mature and strategic approach to his football career.

Endorsement from Coach and Teammates

Head coach Urban Meyer expressed his respect for Ward’s decision and extended his well wishes for the cornerback’s future endeavors. 

This endorsement from the coaching staff emphasized the mutual understanding and respect between the player and the team.

Ward’s teammates, recognizing his contributions to the team, also supported his decision to prioritize his NFL draft preparation. 

Their positive sentiments highlighted the camaraderie within the team and reinforced the notion that Ward’s choice was both personal and strategic.

What Benefits Did Denzel Ward get Skipping Cotton Bowl?

Denzel Ward’s decision to skip the Cotton Bowl yielded several benefits, both in terms of his career trajectory and long-term prospects as a professional athlete:

Injury Prevention

By abstaining from the physical demands of a bowl game, Ward significantly reduced the risk of injury. 

This strategic move aimed to ensure he entered the NFL draft process in optimal health, minimizing the potential impact on his draft stock and future playing capabilities.

Focused NFL Draft Preparation

Focused NFL Draft Preparation

Skipping the Cotton Bowl allowed Ward to dedicate undivided attention to his NFL draft preparation. 

This included fine-tuning his skills, participating in specialized training programs, and engaging in position-specific drills to enhance his readiness for the professional level.

Preservation of Draft Stock

Ward’s status as the top cornerback prospect in the 2018 NFL draft was a testament to his exceptional collegiate performance. 

By avoiding the Cotton Bowl, he mitigated the risk of any on-field setbacks that could potentially affect his draft stock, ensuring that NFL scouts and teams evaluated him based on his stellar body of work.

Mental and Physical Rest

The decision to skip the bowl game provided Ward with a valuable period of mental and physical rest. 

This respite allowed him to recharge, both mentally and emotionally, after a demanding collegiate season. 

The refreshed state could contribute to improved performance during NFL draft evaluations and showcase events.

Support and Understanding from Key Figures

Ward’s decision garnered support from his head coach, Urban Meyer, and teammates. 

This demonstrated a cohesive understanding within the team regarding the importance of individual player decisions and ambitions. 

The backing of key figures in his football journey provided a solid foundation for Ward’s transition to the professional ranks.

Strategic Career Planning

Strategic Career Planning

The choice to skip the Cotton Bowl showcased Ward’s strategic approach to his football career. 

By aligning his actions with long-term goals, he emphasized a commitment to personal and professional development, setting the stage for a successful transition to the NFL.

What Injury Does Denzel Ward Have?

Denzel Ward, the Cleveland Browns’ top cornerback, has been ruled out for the team’s Week 12 matchup against the Denver Broncos due to a shoulder injury. 

He sustained the injury during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11. Ward had missed three straight practices before the update on his status.

Let’s check out what injury does Denzel Ward have:

Denzel Ward’s Shoulder Injury: A Setback in Week 11

In Week 11 of the NFL season, Denzel Ward, the star cornerback for the Cleveland Browns, suffered a significant shoulder injury during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

This injury has led to his absence from subsequent team activities, including the crucial matchup against the Denver Broncos in Week 12.

Severity of the Shoulder Ailment

The severity of Ward’s shoulder injury has been pronounced enough to keep him sidelined from practice sessions for three consecutive days leading up to Week 12. 

The lack of participation in team activities raises concerns about the extent of the injury and its potential impact on Ward’s availability for future games.

Previous Injury Concerns in the Season

Ward’s shoulder injury is not the first setback he has faced in the current season. Earlier in the campaign, the talented cornerback dealt with concussion scares in both Week 6 and Week 9. 

These incidents underline the physical toll the season has taken on Ward, making his contributions to the team all the more impressive considering the challenges he has encountered.

Valuable Contributions Despite Challenges

Despite the various injury concerns, Denzel Ward has remained a crucial and valuable contributor to the Cleveland Browns’ defense. 

Throughout the season, he has showcased his skills with two interceptions, one forced fumble, and 29 tackles, demonstrating his resilience and determination to make an impact despite the physical challenges he has faced.


Why did Denzel Ward skip the Cotton Bowl?

Denzel Ward decided to skip the Cotton Bowl to avoid the risk of injury and preserve his body ahead of entering the NFL Draft.

Was Denzel Ward’s decision to skip the Cotton Bowl controversial?

Yes, Ward’s decision to skip the Cotton Bowl was met with some controversy, but he emphasized that it was to protect himself from potential injury.

Did Denzel Ward’s decision to skip the Cotton Bowl affect his NFL Draft prospects?

Ward’s decision to skip the Cotton Bowl did not significantly impact his NFL Draft prospects, as he was still considered a top prospect and was ultimately selected in the first round.

Did Denzel Ward have a history of injuries during his career?

Yes, Denzel Ward has had a history of injuries during his career, including concussions, groin injuries, hamstring strains, and foot injuries.

Did Denzel Ward express any regrets about skipping the Cotton Bowl?

Ward expressed that he would have played in the bowl game if Ohio State had made the College Football Playoff, indicating that he did not want to miss the game but chose to prioritize his health and avoid the risk of injury.

Wrap Up

Denzel Ward’s decision to skip the Cotton Bowl might stem from various factors, including his focus on preparing for the NFL Draft. 

Opting out of the bowl game could be a strategic move to mitigate injury risks and preserve his draft stock. 

Players often make such choices to prioritize their professional futures and avoid potential setbacks in non-playoff matchups. 

Ward’s absence underscores the evolving dynamics of college football, where top prospects carefully navigate their paths to the next level. 

While his decision may disappoint some fans, it highlights the strategic considerations players must weigh as they transition from collegiate success to the challenges of the professional arena.

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John Rizzo

I am a professional rugby player in the Washington DC-Baltimore area. I have been playing rugby for over 10 years and have had the opportunity to play in many different countries. I am also a coach for both youth and adult rugby teams. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Sports Management and Marketing. I am currently working on my MPA from American University and plan to pursue this career path after graduating next year. LinkedIn