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UPDATED: Raiders take DE Jihad Ward from Illinois at No. 44

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The Raiders made Illinois defensive end Jihad Ward their No. 44 overall pick. (University of Illinois photo)

The Raiders made Illinois defensive end Jihad Ward their No. 44 overall pick. (University of Illinois photo)

The Raiders added depth along the line Friday by selecting defensive end Jihad Ward from Illinois with the No. 44 overall pick.

The 6-foot-6, 295-pound Ward is considered a versatile lineman who can play both ends spots and kick inside to tackle as well. ESPN reported after his selection that Ward may need arthroscopic knee surgery that could sideline him for six weeks.

“If I need to get it checked out again, we can check it out,” Ward said on a conference call of his knee. “I don’t want to be at camp or on the field and the next thing we know my knee is messed up. If they want me to get it checked out, we can get it checked out.”

Ward said he had a small tear of the meniscus in his right knee during his senior year at Illinois that was supposed to cost him the first two games of the season. But after having arthroscopic surgery, he bounced back quicker than expected and was on the field by the season opener.

Ward played two seasons at Illinois and was a two-time All-Big Ten selection after transferring from a junior college. He played mostly wide receiver and defensive back in high school and was a tight end initially in junior college before shifting to defensive end.

He’s more of an upside selection that figures to be a rotational player at defensive end, at least early in his career. Ward could have a similar role as last year’s second round pick Mario Edwards Jr., whose status remains uncertain following his neck injury from last year.

“I can play either side,” Ward said of his defensive end role. “Talking to them, I would do anything I could do to make the team better. Three technique or inside pass rush or setting the edge, I want to win.

Ward grew up in poverty, as highlighted in a recent MMQB story that described his rough road at Globe Institute of Technology, a junior college in New York where he at times had to sneak onto subways as part of his 24.5-mile daily commute that included three miles on foot and a ferry ride. He wore No. 17 in college because that was his mother’s age when he was born.

His junior season with Illinois was his more effective one, at least statistically. He had three sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss that year but had just 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss as a senior.

“Everybody knows that I didn’t have good numbers last season,” Ward said. “But it’s all about getting better at it. You’ve got to learn from your mistakes and make sure you don’t have the mistakes again. I’m here to learn from the vets out there.”

Ward’s length, effort and quickness are considered to be his strength and his had a strong NFL scouting combine in February that boosted his stock.

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Jimmy Durkin

Sports writer for the Bay Area News Group, covering the Raiders.

  • VanCity21

    Everything u say sounds like idiot hater

  • it has a lot of weapons dude. it needs protection.

  • Morilla_00

    Does it have WiFi?

  • ElkGRaider

    This Jihad kid has all the god given talent you want in a DE. Can he develop moves??

  • Raiderkoolaid

    Maybe he should call up Reggie and tell him he is.

  • BIG RICH

  • xraided

    typically to fight off the zombies

  • Angelo DeBortoli

    I seen Ward mocked in the 2nd round on a ton of drafts…I even saw him mocked to Seattle a couple weeks ago in the first round.

    Kid was productive on a defense that was awful. Was double teamed…Kid is a hard worker and talented. I will take that on my team everyday.

  • MojoRaider

    put an alarm on it

  • 1972

    Dude these guys injury’s are not that serious ( Haydone) and will be contributing sooner than later

  • ElkGRaider

    Damn…I liked Cyrus

  • R8der4evr

    Yes longest arms of all the LT’s
    Stud

  • Oak R8rs33.01

    CBS sports grade: B
    B/R: A+
    PFF: D+

  • Kylo-Kenchun24

    yay Aguayo went high in the 2nd! Love it! Draft who you want GM’s…Jano is proud.

  • Raider 8

    i’ve been joking about reggie reaching for injured players..but seriously…i would prefer we get a guy who actually doesn’t have any injury concerns in this next pick.

  • Miamiraider78

    Why can’t we have more??? lol

  • we can, but we should protect him first.

  • xraided

    the Raiders brain trust seems to think so…i trust this entire coaching staff to get him going like they did Edwards

  • Christian W

    New post u whippersnappers

  • R8der4evr

    No
    When the Cooper went out
    The Carr stalled

  • Angelo DeBortoli

    Hard worker, high character kid. And he has talent.

  • Raider 8

    on jihad or our two picks so far?

  • StrongGrogCharlie

    Riocket launcher, shotgun and a colt 45. I call the sunroof!

  • Thec

    Neither make any diff…Raiders have way too much intel….

  • Guest123

    The Patriots are on the board. They select Alabama DB Cyrus Jones at No. 60. https://t.co/rKykhHn0iT https://t.co/6GxgIshiEw

  • it stalled because the line completely fell apart.

  • inonewordraider

    Dj was called out for being lazy and benched, so whats ur spin?

  • Oak R8rs33.01

    Just Jihad

  • rifflicks

    so PFF overlooked him and got caught with their pants down

  • MojoRaider

    So what about Pharaoh Cooper? Then we could throw to Cooper every time

  • Kylo-Kenchun24

    Yay Big Rich forever remembered for the Big Ben punch…f the Pats…. REACH!!!!

  • Raiderkoolaid

    The Carr needs accessories?

  • Kylo-Kenchun24

    Miller loves the Raids picks.

  • Oak R8rs33.01

    His stock rose w the senior bowl. Doubt PFF pays any attention to all star games, as they shouldn’t. They really don’t like him. But they love KJ. It is what it is. Read into it what you want.

  • Oak R8rs33.01

    All of B/R tho. Simms is a known Raider lover, but all of them r all over the jihad pick.

  • StrongGrogCharlie

    A healthy Cooper is a must. We could do with another guy downstream for those days when someones hurting. But frankly I’d prefer a RB here sometime soon. The L-Train runs with pads high and it worries me.

  • Guest123

    Forgot that Vonn Bell was still available

    Facepalm

  • VanCity21

    PFF was invited to scout the Senior Bowl…it was the first time the were there to scout all practices

  • StrongGrogCharlie

    Bling

  • Oak R8rs33.01

    Well they hate him. Fwiw.

  • VanCity21

    PFF Scout plays…no analysis on potential…this pick is purely on potential by the sounds of it

  • Greg Mindyobizness

    I’m cool with a developmental project but not in the 2nd, you know what I mean?

  • RaiderCODE

    Somebody yell Jihad?!!

  • Raider O

    I like the name but he wasn’t on my radar. Safe seems to be doing great last 2 years so I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

  • EDWARD TEACH

    These media sites that slam picks crack me up. They have nowhere near the research capability that the teams do, dutifully report the smokescreens as inside information and base their “expert opinions” and mock drafts on about one tenth of what the teams do, then criticize the teams for picking guys that they didn’t rate the same way.

    I’d take a few of them more seriously if they did a little less “grading” of picks and a little more research into why the teams did what they did and how the new players fit the scheme of the teams they go to. I can say this; Reggie would not have taken Sheldon Rankins, but he would have gotten a ton of grief had he had the chance and passed. Never mind that there were better scheme fits; he would have faced criticism because Rankins was number whatever on some “expert’s” board.