In a draft that is starved of star talent, Ezekiel Ansah has been continuously talked about in NFL circles and the media. Ansah arrived at Brigham Young University from Ghana as a member of the track team, but with aspirations of one day making it to the NBA. When Ansah's ambitions of becoming an NBA star failed to work out, the Ghana-native joined the BYU football team. As a result, Ansah was completely off the radar at the beginning of the 2012 college football season. Fast-forward a year, and Ansah has become on the hottest commodities in the 2013 NFL Draft.
In an age where the NFL is moving towards read-option quarterbacks, all 32 NFL teams place a premium on defensive ends that are tall, fast, and insanely athletic. In other words, they are looking for the next Jean Pierre-Paul. Ezekiel Ansah may be that guy.
Standing tall at 6 foot-5, 274 pounds, and possessing a wingspan of nearly seven feet, Ansah shows the speed and power to knock offensive lineman off their feet in order to make the sack. But not only is Ansah's straight line speed and power impressive, his college tape also highlights his ability to change directions, with impressive agility to get past the offensive line. In the event his superior athleticism is held up at the line of scrimmage, the Ghanaian has already shown excellent recognition and use of hands in pass defense, knocking down nine passes in 2012. In addition, when defending the run, Ansah has demonstrated the ability to slide off his blocks in order to make the tackle.
The biggest downside is how raw the player is. Ansah only became a starter for BYU in 2012 after an injury to their nose tackle. It's therefore imperative that he refines both aspects of his pass rushing and run stopping game.
Ansah's production in 2012 was also not that of a top-10 pick. Starting just nine games, Ansah made 62 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and only 4.5 sacks. While it is possible the player could have registered more sacks if it weren't for BYU possessing another great pass rushing prospect in Kyle Van Noy (13.5 sacks), Ansah will raise red flags for those NFL executives looking to add a technically sound and productive pass rushing threat.
Finally, how dedicated is Ansah to football? There may be some concerns that the defensive end's heart may not be totally committed to the game due to his past ambitions of making it to the NBA. Ansah will have to prove in interviews with NFL executives and scouts that this is not the case.
Ezekiel Ansah is one of those rare athletes that does not come along very often. Possessing rare athleticism and size, it's possible Ansah could be the next star pass rusher to dominate offenses in the NFL. While this may be the case, he has a long way to go. NFL coaches will have to be patient with him while he refines his pass rushing moves. If Ansah joins a team as the premier pass rusher, he may struggle. On the flipside, should Ansah join a team that already boasts a quality pass rusher, he could make an impact sooner rather than later. Having Ansah line-up opposite Cameron Wake could prove to be a tantalizing prospect. What do you think?