The 18-year-old, who plays for Leicester, was the youngest player at the Junior World Championships and played a key role in England's run to the final in Italy.
New Zealand, who beat England in the final, provide the other two shortlisted candidates in captain Luke Whitelock and loose-forward Sam Cane.
The winner will be announced at the IRB Awards in Auckland on October 24.
Ford said: "It's a massive honour to be nominated for the award, especially when you consider that the likes of All Blacks regulars Luke McAlister and Isaia Toeava are among previous winners.
"It was a massive team effort over there, though, and while we were gutted not to win the whole thing, we performed well throughout and can take a lot from the competition.
"I can't take too much credit for the nomination. We had a squad of 26 players who all played their part.
"Sam Cane and Luke Whitelock are both good players who I have massive respect for and they both deserve their nominations. A lot of our squad will be back next year ready to give it another go."
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.