Getting Ziggy With It:
Ezekiel Ansah, nicknamed "Ziggy", hails from Ghana and started playing football in 2010. The former track star converted edge rusher has many teams and fans intrigued. The majority of expert mocks have him projected around that 18 spot. His name is gaining momentum and popping up more frequently in Cowboys fan's mock drafts. If you're a on the side of the coin that is set on Dallas drafting an offensive lineman than this blog may not have much relevance. However, with the imminent departure of Anthony Spencer, the buzz for "Ziggy" seems to be in its beginning phase. I'm here to end this buzz right now before it gets any worse. Ezekiel Ansah will already have broken in his teams hat long before 18 comes around. Not even a Morris Claiborne second round trade scenario could move us up enough to land Ziggy. I have him going at the 5th spot to the Detroit Lions. Bold statement? I think not. Here's exactly what will happen...
The setting is in Indianapolis on February 25th. The crops of defensive lineman are clad in the there under armor tights. His 6'6", 270 lb. frame with a seven-foot wingspan is evidently more impressive than the other top defensive ends. Ansah will confidently walk to the line for the start of his 40. He will methodically get into his starting stance and comfortably glide through the finish line. Every one with a stopwatch has a look of confusion that quickly turns into a grin. Official time comes in and the N.F.L. network announcers simply laugh. He ran the 40 in 4.48 seconds. 4.49 seconds later Ansah will have solidify him as a top 10 pick. At the conclusion of the combine process, his pro day and personal team interviews, Ziggy will be a top 5 pick. In 2-3 years Ezekiel Ansah will be the defining player of this draft. Let out that sigh N.F.L. purists and combine doubters. Give me a chance to explain...
"Raw" tag is positive for defensive ends:
I do not believe that the combine is a full proof barometer on projecting the success of a college athlete at the next level. Tape and college production can be equally and in most circumstances more relevant as a projection tool. However, the combine is highly relevant to a future N.F.L. edge rusher more than any other position. You can accurately predict the transition from college to the N.F.L. by a defensive end/outside linebacker combine results. The argument can be made that the best athletes in the N.F.L. are top tier defensive ends or outside linebackers. It's natural that Ezekiel Ansah draws Jason Pierre-Paul comparisons. They both only started playing football in college and each were described as "raw" coming out of college. Pierre-Paul out of South Florida had an extremely impressive combine and shot up to #15 in the 2010 draft. He is now arguably the best defensive end in football. Speaking of "raw", Aldon Smith came out of Missouri in the 2011 draft with the same tag. His college production was respectable but he showed up at the combine and put on a highly impressive performance. Aldon Smith was off the board by #9 to the San Francisco. Smith nearly broke Strahan's sack record this year and is regarded as one of the most dangerous pass rushers in the game. Bruce Irvin came out of West Virginia last year and also rendered the "raw" tag. The Seahawks took him at #15 last year. He translated nicely to the NFL and looks as if he is the best defensive end to come out last years draft class. All these players were considered "projects" along with Ansah. These players also had immediate impact from year one. My point would be incomplete without mentioning Demarcus Ware. Doubt circulated around him coming from Troy, a small school in the Sunbelt. Teams also couldn't figure out a definitive position for Ware. Ware showed up in Indianapolis at the combine and put on an epic performance. He ran a 4.56 in the 40 and jumped 38" in the vert. Jerry took him with the 11th pick in 2005 and you know the rest of the story. The term "project" is used incorrectly and should not apply to defensive ends with technique issues. "Raw" talent at the defensive end position in most circumstances gives a rookie the ability to make an impact in their rookie season. Ziggy will produce immediately in the NFL.
Ziggy could prove to be the most athletic end in the game:
The trend in the last couple years shows that the best athletes at the defensive end position are highly successful at the NFL level. This comes with an asterisk belonging to Vernon Gholston in the 2008 draft. Bjorn Werner, Barkevious Mingo, and Damontre Moore had far better college careers than Ezekiel Ansah. However, Ansah will be drafted before all of them simply because he is physically bigger and a superior athlete with greater potential. The game is changing and continuing to speed up and teams have to draft accordingly. Its only a matter of time before there will be a "read option" mobile quarterback in every division. Freak athleticism is a necessity for a team's top edge rusher to possess. I believe that Dion Jordan from Oregon is the second defensive end off the board because he is the second best athlete of the group. Ansah could not have declared for the draft at a more perfect time. Having a "raw" tag may actually ascend his value. It's simply not a risk to draft an edge rusher with technique flaws that is freakishly athletic anymore. The scary thing is I believe that Ansah is more athletic than the group mentioned earlier. Bruce Irvin ran the fastest 40 at 4.5 of the group. I project Ezekiel Ansah to run a 4.48. Aldon Smith's vert jump was 34". I project Ansah to jump 37". Pierre Paul broad jumped 115 inches. I project Ansah will destroy the combine record for defensive ends in this category. He may even come close to Julio Jones 135" broad jump. I guess the early mocks are projecting Ziggy around the 18 spot because the combine is not on paper yet. I'm not sure why because his tape shows that he will inevitably put up jaw dropping numbers.
Officially delete Ziggy from all Cowboys Mocks:
My assessment on Ansah's draft stock isn't solely based on his potential combine performance. He only recorded 4.5 half sacks his senior year at BYU but the tape is there and his ceiling is endless. Similar to Pierre Paul and Aldon Smith he is a highly instinctual player. Coaches moved him around displaying his versatility, but Ansah could have had better numbers if he played in the same spot throughout the year. I had Ezekiel Ansah in my cross heirs at the conclusion of the college season. I thought it might have been realistic chance for the Cowboys to land Ziggy at pick 18...than the senior bowl came around. I watched that game like he was a player owned on an opponents fantasy football team. I just prayed he wouldn't show too much. Ansah was the most dominant player in the Senior Bowl recording 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss. I knew it was officially over than. It is now time for Cowboys fan to end any hope that Ansah could land in Dallas. It hurts me just as much as you. In the miracle scenario that Ansah is around in the early teens of the draft, there is no doubt the Cowboys should make a move to trade up. I would definitely not bank on that. My official goodbye party to Ansah will be on Monday at 9 a.m. eastern time as I tune in for the combine on NFL network. It's been real Ziggy, but its time to move on Cowboy fans.
Senior bowl highlights: Watch 2:36-3:41 & 8:10-8:39...These plays define the type of athleticism required to qualify to be a great defensive end on the next level.
Ezikiel Ansah (DE BYU) Senior Bowl (via footballmixtapes)