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Five Things You Need To Know About Jihad Ward


The Oakland Raiders used their second round selection (No. 44 overall) to add another athletic player who can get after the quarterback, selecting University of Illinois defensive end Jihad Ward.

Here are five things you need to know about the newest Raider.

1. He spent Draft Day with his teammates from Illinois

"I was with my [defensive line] coach [Mike Phair] and the rest of the [defensive] linemen there," said Ward. "It was just exciting. I was waiting for that phone call, I'm officially a Raider. I can't believe it to this day."

2. Ward makes a change

During his time in junior college, Ward played both wide receiver and safety, but eventually made the switch full-time to defensive end.

"I was really just getting big," Ward said. "I was playing wide receiver and defensive back at the time. I started learning defensive end my senior year in high school and I just kept developing as I got bigger. I was more of an offensive player, playing tight end in JuCo. I just wanted to get out there on the field. It didn't matter what position, I just wanted to get out there."

3. A quick study

Ward didn't begin playing organized football until he was 14, but he certainly proved to be a quick study, earning All-Big Ten honorable mention accolades as a senior, and finishing his career at Illinois with 25-consecutive starts.

4. He's still willing to learn

"You have to learn from your mistakes and make sure you don't have those mistakes again," Ward said. "I'm here to learn from the vets out there, the [defensive] linemen, with [Bruce] Irvin and them, one of the best head coaches in the NFL, and I'm just ready."

5. Ward doesn't care where he lines up on the defensive line, he just wants to win

"I can play either side, but talking to them, I would do anything I can do to make the team better," he explained.  "Three technique or inside, [or] pass rush, or setting the edge, I want to win. I will do everything in my power to win, so put me in tackle a play, put me in [at] tackle, if you want me to set the edge, I will set the edge. I'm just there to be a part of the team and make the team great."

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