2015 Detroit Lions Roster Analysis: Defensive End

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Dec 14, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (94) runs onto the field giving fans high fives before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

No. 94 Ezekiel Ansah

Age: 26 

Height: 6’5″

Weight: 270

Ziggy Ansah is well on his way to becoming one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. He was a highly debated pick in 2013, when the Detroit Lions made him the 5th overall pick of the draft. Critics would point out his low statistical output and experience, but it was evident when you watched his tape that he was going to be a star. He had one of the most impressive combines in recent history (Mockdraftable spider web below) and displayed some really impressive instincts at the Senior Bowl and his time at BYU. He may turn out to be the best pick of Mayhew’s tenure and is prime for another breakout year.

What he’s done?

During his rookie season, he had the most sacks of any 2013 rookie even though he missed a couple of games due to injury. He also showed a lot of promise as a run defender. Pro Football Focus has rated him as a better run defender than pass rusher the last two years. He is a key aspect of the Lions top run defense and will continue to be a force in the run game. His explosion off the ball combined with his incredibly strength is almost impossible for offensive tackles to match. He penetrates into the backfield with ease and should continue to thrive with Haloti Ngata drawing double teams in the middle.

His growth as a pass rusher last year was tremendous. He came out of college as somewhat of a one trick pony who relied on his athleticism to rush the passer.  In 2014, he displayed a variety of pass rushing moves and has become a force rushing the passer. He had the third highest pass rushing productivity rating per Pro Football Focus and had the second most QB hits in the NFL behind only JJ Watt. He was in quarterbacks faces all year and there is no reason to suspect a decrease in output. He has a desire to get better and constantly is working on becoming a better player. He recently told the Detroit Lions team website:

"“I don’t put numbers on what I’m trying to accomplish,” he said after Thursday’s open OTA practice. “I’m just trying to be the greatest. The greatest at my position and what I do.”"

What to Expect?

It’s safe to assume he will be an even more impactful pass rusher this year with another season under his belt and we can expect more of the same as a run defender. He is prime for a huge season and should reach double-digit sacks next year for the first time in his NFL career. He is in great shape coming into the year and is healthy for the first time at training camp. He also has an upcoming contract extension looming over his head, giving him some extra motivation heading into this season.

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