Ford started his amateur career playing for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League in the 2003–04 season. In 60 games, Ford posted an impressive 37 goals and 68 points to lead the Stampede and was consequently drafted in the eighth round, 256th overall, in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. Ford then opted to continue his amateur career by enrolling to play collegiate hockey with the University of Wisconsin of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association the following season. Used as a role player within the Badgers, Ford never totaled more than 13 points in each of his four seasons, but helped Wisconsin win the National Championship as a sophomore in 2006.
Upon completion of his college career, and unsigned from the Blackhawks, Ford made his professional debut in the 2008–09 season with the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL. He was signed to a professional try-out with AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, on November 6, 2008, before he was returned to the Checkers on December 8, 2008. Ford was selected to the American Conference team for the ECHL's All-Star game and following a three-goal, four point performance was named the All-Stars MVP on January 21. Enduring a second stint with the Wolf Pack in late January he compiled a combined 25 games, scoring one goal and two assists. On March 11, immediately after his second spell with Hartford was ended, Ford was signed to a P.T.O contract with fellow AHL team, the Lake Erie Monsters, going scorless in 5 games. Ford returned to the Checkers to complete his season with 38 points in 28 regular season games and 5 points in 6 games during the playoffs.
In the 2009–10 season, Ford re-signed with the Charlotte Checkers, but played only 3 games before he was loaned back to Lake Erie on October 30, 2009. Remaining with the Monsters for the duration of the season, Ford posted 13 goals and 27 points in 45 games while also leading with a team-high Plus/Minus of +14.
Re-signed by Lake Erie prior to the 2010–11 campaign, he was invited on a try-out to participate in the Monsters NHL affiliate, the Colorado Avalanche, training camp on September 15, 2010 before returning to Cleveland to begin the season.
On July 1, 2011, Ford was signed to his first NHL contract, agreeing to a two-way one-year deal with the Washington Capitals. Assigned to the Capitals affiliate, the Hershey Bears, Ford scored 28 points in 39 games before he was traded by the Capitals to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Kevin Marshall on February 2, 2012.