The Detroit Lions have picked up the fifth-year option on defensive end Ziggy Ansah, assuring he will be a member of the team through the 2017 season. The former fifth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, has turned into arguably the team’s best defensive player. His career-best 14.5 sacks last season earned him his first Pro Bowl nod in 2015.
Ansah was once viewed as a risky selection, having limited football experience coming out of BYU. Three years into his NFL career, he looks like the best player in that entire draft. Eric Fisher, the offensive tackle out of Central Michigan, has underachieved as the first overall pick in 2013, for the Chiefs. Dion Jordan, the Oregon linebacker/end taken third, has largely been a bust in Miami, getting suspended last season.
Lane Johnson and Luke Joeckel have been respectable at best, but it’s fair to say that none of the three “can’t miss” offensive tackle prospects taken before the Lions’ pick in the 2013 draft have come close to matching Ziggy’s production. Three years is about when it’s fair to evaluate draft picks. For Ziggy and the Lions, the decision to pick up the option was a no-brainer.
The question was never about whether or not the Lions would pick up Ansah’s option, it’s always been a matter of if they can get a long-term deal done, at the kind of money Ansah will likely command as a top-flight player. General manager Bob Quinn, formerly scouting director for the Patriots, will have big decisions to make regarding both Ansah and fourth-year corner Darius Slay.
New England, while not known for their free agent spending, has usually tried to keep their own drafted players. Fans haven’t quite forgotten former GM Martin Mayhew’s inability to retain Ndamukong Suh. Even though it may benefit Detroit long-term not having Suh’s massive contract to work around, Mayhew still looked foolish when he assured fans Suh would stay in Detroit. Suh hasn’t exactly proven to be worth the money thus far, but Ansah is too valuable to let walk away in a similar fashion.
This year’s NFL Draft is viewed by most as a success for Detroit. The Lions filled immediate needs, but they didn’t draft a defensive end until Penn State’s Anthony Zettel was selected in the sixth round. Zettel is an interesting player, but not viewed as anything more than a depth lineman, if he makes the roster.
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The Lions have Devin Taylor, who may start on the opposite side, with Jason Jones’ return unlikely at this point. Taylor recorded a career-best 7 sacks last season, while splitting reps with Jones. Adding defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson in the draft was a smart move, but outside of Ziggy, the Lions have mainly question marks at the defensive end position.
Once considered the mystery of the 2013 Draft, Ziggy is now the only sure-thing on the Lions’ defensive line. The team simply cannot afford to lose another high 1st-round pick. Watch highlights from his impressive 14.5 sack season below.