2024 NFL Draft: Cam Ward Possesses Franchise QB Potential

Oct 27, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward (1) celebrates a touchdown against the Utah Utes in the second half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Utah won 21-17. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 27, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward (1) celebrates a touchdown against the Utah Utes in the second half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Utah won 21-17. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports /

Every NFL Draft cycle sees a fresh set of quarterback prospects hoping to work their way to the league. In 2024, it is more of the same. The group of passers available next Spring possess immense talent, but youngster Cam Ward is perhaps the most intriguing of the bunch. Here is a quick rundown on the 21-year-old, explaining why he is a contender to go in Round 1.

Cam Ward: Journey To 2024 NFL Draft

As a relative of Quandre Diggs and Quentin Jammer, Ward has NFL blood coursing through his veins. The gifted passer grew up in West Columbia, Texas, and attended high school in the same city. In true throwback fashion, Ward ran a Wing-T scheme, which rarely allowed him to create offense with deep balls downfield.

Although this archaic scheme limited Ward’s development as a passer, it did not stop him from earning first-team All-District at quarterback. Furthermore, Ward starred for the basketball team, even winning MVP twice for his district. The cherry on top? He also ranked among the smartest in Texas with an All-State Academic selection.

Ward stamped himself as a legend at Columbia High School but, unfortunately, garnered minimal attention on the recruiting trail. And by minimal, I mean ONE single offer. The little-known Incarnate Word, an FCS program, extended a scholarship offer and the rest is history.

Cam Ward Proves It’s Not About Where You Start; It’s Where You Finish

Head coach Eric Morris deserves credit for believing in Ward when no one else did. He gave the true freshman a chance to seize the starting role behind center, and the 220-pound fireballer did exactly that.

Ward went on to set several program records, and thanks to COVID, these accomplishments came in only SIX games. He accounted for 26 touchdowns and nearly 400 yards a game in Year 1. This remarkable debut resulted in the Jerry Rice Award, given to the nation’s best FCS freshman.

The second season on campus saw Ward settle in even more. He bumped up the completion rate by five points and threw for 47 touchdowns with 4,648 yards to boot. In 13 starts, the sophomore eclipsed 300 passing yards in 11 of them. Fresh off a Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year Award, Ward received a sparkling four-star rating as a transfer (via 24/7Sports).

When his long-time coach, Eric Morris, took a job at Washington State as the offensive coordinator, many predicted that Ward would follow. Those predictions came true. Heading into the 2022 college football season, the dynamic duo reunited to prove itself on the FBS level.

A Reunion In Pullman

Morris and Ward hit the ground running in the first month. The Cougars won four of the first five games, with the only loss being a tightly-contested three-point defeat at the hands of Oregon. Ward performed well in this span, but his inexperience popped up several times, mainly in terms of ball security, as he lobbed seven interceptions.

As the season went on, Washington State embarked on a roller coaster ride. Ward’s play kept the team in games some weeks and took them out of games in others. Overall, the first-time FBS starter finished the campaign with 3,228 passing yards and 23 touchdowns. Ward provided optimism on the turnover front by only throwing two interceptions in the final eight games.

Now, Ward enters his first collegiate season without the comfortable play calling of Morris. The former college wide receiver left the program this offseason to take a head coaching gig at North Texas. There is no ill will between the two parties, as Ward regularly credits Morris for getting him to this point.

Will Ward continue his ascendancy up the collegiate ranks and develop into an NFL starter? Looking deeper than scheme, what are the positives and negatives of his NFL Draft profile?


Arm Talent: Ward displays enough arm strength to make any throw on the field. He zips the ball around with ease and manipulates arm angles to keep defenders off balance.

Athleticism: Ward is not a world-class athlete, but he is creative in space. On designed runs and rollouts, the 220-pound signal-caller looks like a point guard directing his blockers and receivers downfield.

Short-to-Intermediate Accuracy: Ward dices defenses up from a clean pocket, exhibiting an advanced understanding of the open areas in zone coverage. He fits tight windows and typically puts the ball in places where only his receiver can make the grab.

Improvisation: Ward gets caught playing “hero ball”, but it is only because he is supremely talented. His belief that any play can result in a big gain is detrimental at times, but the creativeness gives NFL coaches a glimpse of “what could be” if things are cleaned up mechanically.


Mechanics: So, yeah, about the whole mechanics thing. Ward is a work in progress in several areas, but his footwork stands out as the biggest need for improvement. Frequent heel clicks and choppy steps lead to decreased accuracy and timing downfield.

Ball Placement Downfield: Piggybacking off the last section, Ward loses his accuracy and precision the further downfield he throws it. A dip in completion percentage happens with most quarterbacks, but not to this extent. Ward gets too much air under his passes, giving defenders a chance to make plays. His 31.5 PFF grade ranked among the worst in the country on passes 20+ yards downfield.

Pocket Fundamentals: Aside from a lack of traditional dropbacks on tape, Ward also fails to sense pressure at a consistent rate. Far too often, the defender is already wrapping Ward up before he even realizes a defender is coming. Examples of leaving a clean pocket too early pop up on tape, as well.

2024 NFL Draft Outlook: Washington State QB Cam Ward

Cam Ward is a polarizing prospect in NFL Draft circles. Some see the Wazzu signal-caller as a Day 3 prospect, while others argue his validity as a first-rounder. As for me? I fall more with the latter group.

Ward’s arm talent is worth betting on. He exhibits impeccable accuracy on medium-range passes and is familiar with getting the ball out quickly when the play calls for it. Improved mechanics will clean up his accuracy further downfield, and better decision-making should cut down the turnover-worthy plays drastically.

After beginning his journey as a zero-star recruit, Ward has proven how coachable he is. It takes hard work and dedication to parlay two successful seasons at Incarnate Word into a full-ride scholarship at a Pac-12 program. Imagine what Ward will look like with another year of experience under his belt.

I was granted access to a recent training session by Ward this offseason, and the results were promising. His form is substantially better, primarily in his lower half. Ward’s feet remain quiet, and his accuracy downfield is a night and day difference. Assuming this improvement translates to in-game action, we are looking at a bonafide first-round talent.

While Caleb Williams and Drake Maye will hog the spotlight at the 2024 NFL Draft, do not be surprised if Cam Ward witnesses an Anthony Richardson/Trey Lance type of ascent-up draft boards. He isn’t quite as physically imposing as those prospects, but the comparison still tracks given his otherworldly talent.