Editor's Note: We have another excellent guest profile, this time from FatDT. Interested in writing one? Just shoot me an email. --Matt
In 2010 NFL Draft the New York Giants surprised a few people by bolstering a position of strength in the first round. With the 15th overall pick the Giants selected defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, an athletic prospect out of the Big East Conference with lots of questions about his lack of experience and production. JPP proved he was worth the risk by earning 27.5 sacks, 132 tackles, 18 passes defended, five fumbles forced, and even an interception returned for a touchdown in his first three seasons.
Since then teams, media members, and fans have been on the lookout for that next raw, athletic piece of clay ready to be molded into a top pass rusher. Enter Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, a 6'5, 271 lb. DE/OLB prospect out of Brigham Young University.
Born in 1990 in Accra, Ghana, Ansah came to the United States in 2008 to play basketball. When that didn't work out, he walked on to the BYU track team, where he competed primarily in the 100 and 200 meter events. In 2010 he was convinced to try football, a sport he had never played in his life.
Ansah used his sophomore and junior seasons to learn the game. He played on special teams and sparingly at DE or OLB in pass rush situations. He began the 2012 season in a similar situational role, but because of injury Ansah got the start in week four and never looked back. For 2012 Ansah racked up 62 total tackles, with 13 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks. He also intercepted a pass, added six QB hurries, broke up nine passes, and forced a fumble.
At the beginning of pre-draft season Ansah was considered a late-first or early-second round pick. There were still questions about his inexperience and solid-but-unspectacular production. Thus Ansah accepted an invite to the 2013 Senior Bowl. He began the week of practice slowly, but exploded during the game with seven tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, a pass breakup, and a forced fumble. He then confirmed his freaky athleticism at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine with a 4.63 second 40 yard dash, supposedly without having prepared for the Combine at all.
So how would Ansah fit with the Colts? We may not get the chance to debate it. Many mocks have Ansah going in the top 10 picks. Assuming a trade-up or a stroke of good luck, Ansah would be the instant favorite to replace Freeney at starting right outside linebacker, or on the left side if Mathis were to move to Freeney's old spot. His closing speed, natural power, and intelligence mean he is going to continue to improve on what is already an impressive set of skills. In 4-3 looks he might even slide in to DT, as he played all positions along the defensive line for BYU and has the size and power to hold his ground and defeat interior blockers. He is a young, intelligent, extraordinarily-talented player with high character, a limitless ceiling, and a higher floor than many might expect for one so new to football.
Combination of size, length, and foot speed is nearly unparalleled. Delivers solid first contact that jolts opponent back. Continues to press and locate ball carriers in the backfield. Consistently sheds at the line of scrimmage, envelopes his target with a strong grasp and outstanding closing burst. Flashes the complete package, specifically when rushing from the edge on passing downs.
Has admitted to a lack of stamina. Fatigue is noticeable after a few plays of rushing the passer. In those circumstances, does not chase the play down from the backside, instead staying at the line of scrimmage to knock down the pass. Technique is not always there, specifically on the edge against the run.
STRENGTHS: Rare combination of size, athleticism and natural power. Has a long, well-distributed frame with room for additional muscle mass without a significant loss of quickness. Flashes an explosive initial punch to the offensive lineman to gain space. Possesses rare balance that allows him to maintain his feet despite taking long-strides that gobble up space between he and the quarterback with surprising speed. Possesses significant untapped potential and is an ascending talent whose best football is ahead of him.
WEAKNESSES: Lacks elite first-step quickness off the snap. Relies too much on his speed, size and an explosive first punch to shock his opponent with his initial surge, struggling to break free if the blocker grabs a hold of Ansah's jersey or chest plate.
Compares to: Jason Pierre-Paul
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