The linebackers don’t work out until Monday, and from the sounds of it, the Steelers will are more anxious than Casey Hampton (or insert LaMarr Woodley) waiting for the all you can eat buffet line to open. OLB is a top priority for the Steelers, and with a 17th pick and a fairly deep class, the Steelers have options.
BYU Ezekiel Ansah is one of those options. Word from DraftInsider.net and Tony Pauline is that the Steelers are ‘drooling’ over the prospects of getting Ansah. Ansah is probably one of the best raw talented LB’s in the draft. He is explosive off the line, his angle of attack is amazing, his strength allows him to bull rush linemen, and he is a very good tackler. Another upside to Ansah is that he’s only been playing football since 2010. His body is fresh – meaning that in the long term, he would hopefully retain his attributes well into his career. His youth in the game is also a negative. Pauline mentions that Ansah can be easily fooled in misdirection plays and sometimes can ‘look lost on the field.’
Our own latest Mock Draft tallied up by Draft Master Dom has Ansah going as the 6th pick to the Cleveland Browns. Dom said:
New Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton will probably want to improve the Browns’ pass-rush as the team transitions to a 3-4 scheme. Luckily for Horton, he will likely get to choose from Ezekiel Ansah, Barkevious Mingo, and Jarvis Jones once Cleveland is on the clock. Jabaal Sheard (7.0 Sacks) and Juqua Parker (6.0) could use some help attacking the passer, and the Browns need a more formidable pass-rush when they face Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, and Ginger Spice six times per season. Although he is newer to the game of football, Ansah had a fine 2012 season as he made 62 Tackles, 13.0 TFL’s, 4.5 Sacks during his first year as a starter.
Even if Cleveland does not bite on Ansah, there are other LB hungry teams after the Browns. The Jets and Saints are also looking for defensemen at the LB slot. The Steelers will have to jump quite a bit if they want to grab Ansah. My sense is that they still will have to trade up the board if they want to get one of the top three or four LB’s in this class. There’s a ton of need in the draft for the Steelers since they have no cap room to bring in any worthy free agent, and they have to dump numerous vets just to get under. How far would the Steelers be willing to go? Can they even afford the picks to get someone like Ansah?