San Francisco 49ers draft Jimmie Ward with No. 30 pick


Safety Jimmie Ward said he spoke with Colts and Vikings representatives amongst others, for 90 minutes after he finished his workouts at Pro Day March 8 at the Chessick Center.

By Frank Gogola

Former NIU Huskies strong safety Jimmie Ward was drafted No. 30 overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft May 8.

Ward is the second first-round selection in NIU history. Linebacker Larry English was selected No. 16 by the San Diego Chargers in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Ward, a four-year starter at NIU, was named to the All-American First Team by USA Today and and was selected to the All-American Third Team by the Associated Press and Athlon following the 2013 season. He also garnered All-MAC First Team Defense honors for the second year in a row.

Known for his ball-hawking skills, Ward snagged seven interceptions in 2013, returning one for a touchdown. His seven interceptions led the Huskies, paced the MAC and were tied for the second-highest total in the nation.

The main knock on Ward is his small stature. At 5-foot-10 ½ inches and 197 pounds, Ward is considered undersized for an NFL safety and is said to be built more like a cornerback but can lay the hammer down like a safety.

With Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid at the safety positions, Ward could move over to a cornerback position and possibly play as a nickel cornerback.