The Jacksonville Jaguars have needs across the board and can go wherever they want with the second overall pick without really making a bad decision, but outside of quarterback their biggest need is a pass rusher. The 2013 NFL Draft has quite a plethora of pass rushers in every kind of variety, put one of the most interesting prospects is BYU defensive end Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah.
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Originally enrolling at BYU as a 200 meter track runner, Ansah tried a couple of sports before finally settling on football. He was cut from the basketball team twice and seemed to find his niche as a defensive lineman for the Cougars. Bulking up to now around 275 pounds, Ansah is a power player right now in his current form, but with the right coaching and patience he could become so much more as a defensive end prospect.
Many people will call Ansah "raw" at the position, but I like to think of him more as a "blank canvas". According to one report, Ansah was asked if he preferred playing in a 2, 3, or 4-point stance by someone at the Senior Bowl, and he had no idea what they were talking about. That's part of what makes Ansah so interesting as a prospect, is the fact that he's a big piece of premium clay for a defensive line coach to mold.
The biggest tool in Ansah's box right now is his hand strength, which is how he currently is able to make a lot of the plays he does. If he can get inside on an offensive lineman and get them off balance, he can generally toss them aside and get into the backfield or collapse a running lane. He does a great job of holding the point of attack and stuffing run plays to his side, containing the edge, but as far as pass rushing moves he doesn't really have any aside from a bull rush.
At this point, Ansah plays with just pure instinct rather than anything technical, which isn't all the too surprising. The native of Ghana doesn't have the quickest first step, but he's an explosive athlete who can knock offensive lineman off balance with his initial punch. If the offensive lineman gets inside of Ansah however, he struggles to create space and shed because he simply doesn't quite know how yet. He was moved all over the defense for BYU, playing both defensive end spots, defensive tackle, nose tackle, and even as a stand up blitzing linebacker.
As the NFL level, Ansah early in his career will likely make a living as a 5-tech defensive end holding up against the run and setting the edge as he learns a pass rushing repertoire. Ansah needs to learn to keep his pad level low, swat an offensive lineman's hands when he's trying to bend around the edge, and not let the offensive lineman to grab the inside of his body and move him away.
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Once Ansah can learn to create space and consistently break free from blockers like he does against the run, he can be a terror rushing off the edge. He has long arms and a frame that will likely allow him to gain more muscle if a team feels it necessary and will still maintain his quickness. He posses great balance despite being kind of a long strider and has excellent closing speed once his sights are set on a ball carrier. He also wraps up well and seems to have proper tackling technique for being someone with so much inexperience in the sport.
Ansah seemed to get better with each game with BYU, which is natural for someone who's only played the sport for two years. During Senior Bowl week Ansah flashed some of his physical ability, but many observers felt that he was thinking too much in the drills rather than just simply playing. That showed up in the Senior Bowl game, as Ansah looked like one of the most dominant players on the field. He finished up the day with 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3.5 tackles for loss and a tipped pass. He was able to go out and just play with instinct and showed a glimpse of what some NFL scouts think he can be. Ansah did have a tendency to gas out late in football games however, but didn't show any slowing down in the Senior Bowl.
Ansah plays smart as well, showing more and more the ability to sniff out screen and draw plays. He is also relentless on every down, playing to the whistle and often being in on tackles down the football field. He doesn't give up on plays that aren't to his side and does a nice job working back through plays. He can also contribute on special teams early in his career, often covering kicks and punts for BYU.
The No. 2 overall pick might be considered high by some for Ziggy Ansah, but he's a type of player who may be worth the risk given his massive upside. He's likely to go somewhere in the Top 20 picks and likely might be considered higher depending on how he grades out in the NFL combine, which most expect him to dominate.