Ziggy Ansah may not want to share his personal goals with the media, but that doesn’t mean SideLion Report isn’t going to speculate what the young rookie from Ghana is going to accomplish this season. I’ve compiled a list of dominant rookie pass rushers in Aldon Smith and Von Miller, stacked them up with Ansah’s combine, and factored in key elements to each players success to try to get an idea of what the Lions’ fifth overall pick’s sack total might be in his rookie season.
Let’s take a look at two pass rushers who have had success the last two seasons
Aldon Smith: 6’4, 263 lbs, 35 3/8 arms, 9 3/4 hands, 34.0 vertical, 20 bench press reps, 4.78 forty time
-Rookie stats: 14.0 sacks, 31 tackles 4 forced fumbles
Von Miller: 6’3, 246 lbs, 33 1/2 arms, 9 1/4 hands, 37.0 vertical, 21 bench press reps, 4.53 forty time
-Rookie stats: 11.5 sacks, 51 tackles, 3 forced fumbles
Ziggy Ansah: 6’5 271 lbs 35 1/8 arms, 10 1/4 hands, 34.5 inch vertical, 21 bench press reps, 4.63 forty time
There are many more factors that play into a players success than just measurables: schematic fit, overall talent around the player, coaching, veteran leadership, and the biggest question mark with Ziggy, experience.
Both Smith and Miller had excellent coaches, were perfect schematic fits, and had star players along the defensive line to help them out along the way.
Smith benefited from arguably the best and most dominant defensive lineman in the NFL in Justin Smith who had 7.5 sacks in Smith’s rookie season. The 49ers also had other veteran leaders like future hall of famer Patrick Willis.
Ansah has the potential to be the most dominant pass rusher of the trio. He’s taller, bigger, he’s .1o seconds slower than Miller, the fastest of the trio, at over 20 lbs heavier, he’s just as strong, and he’s longer. I added the arm length and hand measurables, because being able to extend an offensive linemen and making a move is essential in pass rushing and swatting the ball down at the line of scrimmage has become more of an emphasis thanks in part to how dominant J.J Watt has become do to Swatting down passes.
The other key trait among Miller and Smith’s rookie season was playing alongside dominant defensive lineman. Ansah also gets the benefit of playing alongside a solid defensive line in one of the best defensive tackle duos in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Ansah and the Lions defensive unit compared to Smith and Miller’s is the overall proven talent on the 49ers and Broncos units, who are consistently top units on defense each year.
Ansah is in a prime position to take the NFL by storm just as Miller and Smith did in their rookie seasons, but to expect a 10-12 sack performance may be asking a bit much due to the lack of football experience. Both Miller and Smith were productive players in college and played high school football. Ansah wasn’t even introduced to football until he went to college, much like Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 6.5 sacks in his rookie season, while playing alongside Justin Tuck, who only registered 5.0 sacks in Pierre-Paul’s rookie season.
Taking measurables, schematic fit, overall talent around the player, coaching, veteran leadership, and experience into account, Ansah should produce 6.5-11.5 sacks, based on what we’ve discussed, but there’s still no way to predict Ansah’s sack total for his rookie season, because each player develops at different rates. However,what we do know about Ansah is that he is very cerebral. Pair that with his supreme athleticism, and the factors that we’ve discussed and I think we can expect no less than 8.0 sacks from the rookie defensive end, assuming he plays 16 all games.
The Lions have talent across the board, albeit youthful talent, and ultimately their success as a whole may depend on the broad shoulders of Ziggy Ansah. Here’s another interesting stat about Miller and Smith’s steller rookie seasons: both the Broncos and the 49ers made the playoffs after missing the playoffs the previous year. Will Ansah and the Lions achieve the same result?