The Carolina Panthers may not realize just yet what a hidden talent they have stumbled on when they signed Stanford FB Lee Ward as an undrafted free agent.
Ward is physically the strongest fullback in the country. Literally! At the combine, he did more reps of 225-pound weights than any other fullback (he completed 35 reps, which also put him toward the top of the combine for any position).
Summing up Ward's combine experience, TonyFernandesSports of Rule of Tree wrote:
"Several scouts described Ward as a "cannonball" that once in motion, can create some serious damage. Ward performed well in agility drills, ran a respectable 4.89 40-yard dash, and blew the scouts away with his 35 reps on the 225lb bench bar."
This comes on the heels of Ward's career as fullback at Stanford, which saw him scoring the only touchdown in the defensive slugfest vs. Utah (this was a game that was so defensive-oriented that it finished regulation time tied at only 7-7, with of course Stanford's only 7 points coming from Ward's touchdown).
Some might be concerned that Ward wasn't drafted, and ended up having to try out for the Carolina Panthers. Examining Ward's background, though, reveals that this is something he's overcome before; long before he became the only Stanford player to break through Utah's defense for a touchdown, you might not believe that Ward actually was a walk on to Stanford's team. Of course, shortly afterward Ward's potential became evident to Stanford, thus earning him a scholarship to continue playing football; he would also later be named a team captain.
I expect a similar success as Ward transitions into the NFL. Much like he had to try out for Stanford as a walk on, he also had to try out for the Panthers.
But it won't be long before the "cannonball" that scouts saw at the combine breaks through for the Panthers and starts doing some "serious damage" in the NFL. And just as Ward broke through an unbreakable Utah defense, I also expect Ward to break through NFL defenses and have a very successful NFL career.