Jihad Ward (born May 11, 1994) is an American football defensive end for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Illinois.
Ward attended Globe Institute of Technology for two years before transferring to the University of Illinois. In those two years, he had 81 tackles and 10 sacks. During his first year at Illinois in 2014, he started all 13 games and had 51 tackles and three sacks. As a senior, he started all 12 games and recorded 53 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
Coming out out 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 inconcsisent balance in contact. Ward was invited to the NFL scouting combine and also participated at Illinois' Pro Day and even improved on the majority his combine numbers. Representatives and scouts from all 32 teams showed up at Illinois' Pro Day, which was ran 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.