The pick came in, the Lions didn’t even let the clock run down before making their pick. Defensive End Ezekiel Ansah of BYU is the Lions newest Defensive End. Have no fear, the Lions will not use Ansah how they used Reiff, letting him sit until he’s ready, Ansah is getting thrown straight to the wolves at starting RDE alongside DT Nick Fairley. The Lions haven’t selected a Defensive End in the first round since Lions Legend Robert Porcher in 1992. Ansah doesn’t blow up on the stat sheet, with only 4.5 sacks in his entire football career. Born in Ghana, he had an unconventional trip to land him at 5th overall, having been cut from the basketball team twice and ran track before even trying out for football as a walk on. Are you sold on him as the 5th overall pick yet? Well, there’s more.
I’ve already done a pretty extensive film study of Ansah, so I won’t go over some old ground in explaining plays he has made. To call Ansah a project would be both fitting and somewhat misleading. There isn’t a single player in this draft with less experience, but there might not be one with as much potential and upside. Ansah was very green at BYU, and horribly underutilized. In his time there, he played DE on both sides of the line, lined up at DT, even lined up on the nose, they put hm as a rush linebacker, a middle linebacker, throwing him all over the place. What really surprised me watching him play is that while he looked lost often, his athleticism allowed him to make up a great deal of those plays, while essentially looking like he didn’t know what to do.
Ansah’s athleticism and strength showed up on film, even while his lack of experience was glaring. He confirmed his natural talents at the Combine, where he was ble to post extremely respectable numbers, running a 4.63 with a 34.5 high jump, but does so with a 6’5″ 271lb frame. He was no slouch during drills, either, where teams played close attention to his technique as they were intrigued as to how advanced he could be after such a short amount of time in football. Ansah is a huge risk/reward player who has bust written all over him…but also…
In the Lions simplified Wide 9 scheme, Ansah was the talk of the Senior Bowl. When stripped of having to know assignments for multiple positions, Ansah was given the task of rushing into the backfield and he did so on nearly every play. He showed better instincts than he ever showed at BYU despite having a short time to learn the Lions defensive scheme. It’s likely that this week in particular was where the Lions really made their choice for the 5th overall pick, as they had no contact with Ansah after that.
I’m not in love with the Ziggy Ansah pick. The kid terrifies me. He has immense potential, elite athleticism, and ridiculous upside. In recent years, however, there have been plenty of examples of a players with similar make up who have completely fizzled out because they couldn’t put it all together, and Ansah surely has the possibility of that happening. As much as people want to make comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul, who like Ansah had only one season of so-so production, he could also be compared to so called athletic freaks like Vernon Gholston, who could never make life work in the NFL. This pick, come 2014, could be a genius pick. It could also cost Martin Mayhew his job. Only time will tell.