Much has been said and written about expectations for Lions 2013 first round choice, Ziggy Ansah. Early reports from training camp indicate a steep learning curve for the native from Ghana who didn’t see significant playing time until his senior year at BYU.
Did the Lions make the right choice when they “gambled” on this athletically talented but raw prospect with the fifth pick? Time will tell and I had initial doubts, however thorough study of his college career substantiates the decision by Lions’ management.
Here’s an excerpt from my pre-2013 NFL draft scouting report where I gave Ansah a lofty 8.5 B grade (first round top-ten pick).
Strengths: Has rare length and bulk for the position. Superior athlete for a big man with a rare blend of quickness, balance and body control. Flashes an explosive initial punch to separate when rushing the passer. Natural bender; can anchor at the POA, disengage and make tackles. Instinctive – locates the ball quickly and pursues with reckless abandon. Showcases an explosive burst to finish and exhibits striking power on contact. Highly competitive.
Weaknesses: Is raw in terms of his pass rush technique. Tries to simply power through pass blocks and needs to learn to use his hands better. Lacks a variety of pass rush moves and rarely uses a counter move when working inside. Will play high vs. run blocks when he tires and can get washed out of plays. Needs to improve lower body strength.
Summary: When I first started watching tape for Ansah, I wasn’t expecting much for a prospect who started playing football only three years ago and had just nine starts under his belt. What was even more surprising than his rare size and athletic attributes were his natural instincts and exceptional motor. Certainly he’s raw and needs to improve the technical side of his game, particularly his hand usage when rushing the passer. However, he is more NFL ready than advertised. He’s shown the ability to transfer speed to power inside and out as a bull rusher, with the ability to consistently stand linemen up, shed the block and finish on the QB. He also does a good job of dropping his base to play strong at the POA vs. run blocks at him and showcases violent hands to shed and make tackle. However, what sets him apart from most prospects at his position is his motor. It’s rare to see a DL of his size pursue ball carriers all over the field. Thought his immense athletic ability provides him with the versatility to play in multiple schemes, I have no doubt Ansah could provide the club with a blue chip player at DE. First round top-ten prospect with All-Pro upside.
When you combine his freakish athleticism, motor and the surprising instincts he displayed for a player with such limited experience, Lions fans should be able to expect impact plays early from their first round draft pick.