Jihad Ward
refer to caption
Ward with the Oakland Raiders in 2016
No. 55 – New York Giants
Position:Outside linebacker
Personal information
Born: (1994-05-11) May 11, 1994 (age 28)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:287 lb (130 kg)
Career information
High school:Edward W. Bok Technical
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
NFL Draft:2016 / Round: 2 / Pick: 44
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Roster status:Active
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2022
Forced fumbles:2
Fumble recoveries:3
Pass deflections:7
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Jihad Ward (/ɪˈhɑːd/ jih-HAHD;[1] born May 11, 1994) is an American football outside linebacker for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Illinois.

Early years

Ward attended Edward W. Bok Technical High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He didn't play football until his sophomore year. He began as a wide receiver and safety, before being converted into a stand up defensive end as a junior.

He received second-team All-City (2010) and first-team All-City (2011) honors. He also practiced basketball.

College career

Ward attended Globe Institute of Technology for two years to improve his grades. In 2013, he played in 7 games, making 26 tackles (3 for loss) and 2 sacks.

In 2014, he transferred to the University of Illinois.[2] He was named a starter at defensive end in the fourth game of the season. He posted 51 tackles, 3 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries (led the conference), 2 forced fumbles, and one pass defended.[3][4]

As a senior, he started all 12 games, playing both at defensive end and defensive tackle. He registered 53 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.[5] Against the University of Iowa, he had a career-high 11 tackles, including nine solo.

In his last two years, he had 104 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 5 fumble recoveries, 3 forced fumbles and 3 passes defensed.

Professional career

Coming out of college, most analysts projected Ward to be a second or third round selection. Although analysts had said he has above athletic ability for a man his size, can play both end spots in a 3-4 or 4–3, is large enough to play defensive tackle in 4–3, and could become a quality pass rusher in the NFL, he was also seen as a developmental project who needs improvement in his power, and has inconsistent balance in contact.[6]

Ward was invited to the NFL scouting combine and also participated at Illinois' Pro Day and even improved on the majority of his combine numbers. Representatives and scouts from all 32 teams showed up at Illinois' Pro Day, which was run by head coach Lovie Smith. Defensive line coaches from the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Houston Texans came especially to watch Ward perform.[7]

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press
6 ft 5+18 in
(1.96 m)
297 lb
(135 kg)
33+78 in
(0.86 m)
9+38 in
(0.24 m)
5.09 s 1.80 s 2.96 s 4.63 s 7.38 s 28.0 in
(0.71 m)
9 ft 3 in
(2.82 m)
22 reps
All values from NFL Scouting Combine/Pro Day[6][8]

Oakland Raiders

Ward was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the second round (44th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft, after dropping because he had a knee injury that was expected to require arthroscopic surgery.[9] Ward didn't participate much in organized team activities during the offseason.[citation needed] Ward finished his rookie season with 30 tackles in 16 games, 13 of which were starts.

On July 6, 2017, it was revealed that he had surgery on his left foot after injuring it during a workout, putting him out of action until mid-August.[10] The injury limited him during the season, playing in only 5 games and was declared inactive in 10 contests.

Dallas Cowboys

On April 28, 2018, the Raiders traded Ward to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for wide receiver Ryan Switzer.[11] Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli coached Ward in the 2016 Senior Bowl.

On September 1, 2018, the Cowboys waived Ward during final roster cuts.[12]

Indianapolis Colts

Jihad Ward in a game against the Washington Redskins in 2018
Jihad Ward in a game against the Washington Redskins in 2018

On September 3, 2018, the Indianapolis Colts signed Ward to their practice squad.[13] The team promoted him to the active roster on September 13, 2018.[14] He was placed on injured reserve on October 26, 2018 with an ankle injury.[15]

On October 1, 2019, Ward was released by the Colts.[16]

Baltimore Ravens

On October 7, 2019, Ward was signed by the Baltimore Ravens.[17]

On March 21, 2020, Ward re-signed with the Ravens.[18] He was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list by the team on November 26, 2020,[19] and activated on December 5, 2020.[20]

Jacksonville Jaguars

On March 17, 2021, Ward signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.[21]

New York Giants

On March 21, 2022, Ward signed with the New York Giants on a one-year contract.[22] He played in 17 games with 11 starts, recording a career-high 43 tackles and three sacks.

Ward re-signed with the Giants on March 29, 2023.[23]

Personal life

Ward is Muslim. He has said that his name, Jihad, which is popular where he was raised in Philadelphia, has been misunderstood due to the negative connotations associated with the term, which has been used to describe Islamic violence against non-Muslims.[24]


  1. ^ Denver Broncos (8–7) vs. Oakland Raiders (12–3), Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, 2:25 pm MST, Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver (flipcard) – NFL.com. Retrieved November 27, 2020
  2. ^ DE Jihad Ward took long road from North Philly to Illinois
  3. ^ "Jihad Ward on the move upward at Illinois". March 18, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  4. ^ "Former Bok Tech star Jihad Ward shines for Illinois". Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  5. ^ Athletic defensive lineman Jihad Ward an intriguing option for Steelers
  6. ^ a b "Jihad Ward Draft and Combine Prospect Profile". NFL.com. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  7. ^ Gil Brandt (March 10, 2016). "DL coaches from three NFL teams check out Illinois' Ward". NFL.com. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  8. ^ "2016 Draft Scout Jihad Ward, Illinois NFL Draft Scout College Football Profile". draftscout.com. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  9. ^ "Oakland Raiders Select Illinois DE Jihad Ward in the 2nd Round of the 2016 NFL Draft". Raiders.com. April 29, 2016. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  10. ^ "Jihad Ward has foot surgery, set to return in August". NFL.com. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  11. ^ Teope, Herbie (April 28, 2018). "Cowboys trade Ryan Switzer to Raiders for Jihad Ward". NFL.com.
  12. ^ Helman, David (September 1, 2018). "Bailey Not Only Surprise Cut As Cowboys Trim To 53". DallasCowboys.com.
  13. ^ Walker, Andrew (September 3, 2018). "Colts Sign Free Agent Tight End Ryan Hewitt; Place Tyquan Lewis On IR". Colts.com.
  14. ^ "Colts Elevate DE Jihad Ward To Active Roster; Waive TE Erik Swoope". Colts.com. September 13, 2018.
  15. ^ "Roster Moves: Colts Elevate WR Steve Ishmael To Active Roster; Place DT Jihad Ward On IR". Colts.com. October 26, 2018.
  16. ^ "Colts Sign Defensive Tackle Trevon Coley From Ravens' Practice Squad". Colts.com. October 1, 2019.
  17. ^ Brown, Clifton (October 7, 2019). "Ravens Add Former Colts Defensive Lineman to 53-Man Roster". BaltimoreRavens.com.
  18. ^ "Ravens reportedly re-sign defensive linemen Jihad Ward, Justin Ellis". Baltimore Sun. March 17, 2020.
  19. ^ Mink, Ryan (November 26, 2020). "Ravens Place Jihad Ward on Reserve/COVID-19 List, Reach 10 Players". BaltimoreRavens.com. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  20. ^ Brown, Clifton (December 5, 2020). "Ravens Activate Three More Players From Reserve/COVID-19 List". BaltimoreRavens.com. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  21. ^ Oehser, John (March 17, 2021). "Official: Ward agrees to terms". Jaguars.com.
  22. ^ "Giants sign free agent linebacker Jihad Ward". giants.com. March 21, 2022.
  23. ^ "Giants re-sign outside linebacker Jihad Ward". Giants.com. March 29, 2023. Retrieved March 29, 2023.
  24. ^ Gerry Dulac (February 27, 2016). "Athletic defensive lineman Jihad Ward an intriguing option for Steelers". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on March 28, 2022. Retrieved September 11, 2022.