It’s time for another installment of my “2013 Mock Draft Analysis!” On Monday, Josh Sanchez of Fansided.com unveiled his new and updated 2013 NFL Mock Draft. In his Mock, Sanchez projected the following player to be selected by the Steelers with their 1st Round pick:
Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Brigham Young University
Pittsburgh is reportedly in love with Ansah and they hope he will be available when they are on the clock in April. Ansah would fit in perfectly at outside linebacker in the Steelers 3-4 defense and would bring some much needed youth and speed to the aging unit.
As one of this year’s most captivating yet tremendously athletic players, it would not shock me in the least to see the former Cougar going as high as #5 to Detroit in this April’s Draft. If Ansah somehow falls to the supposedly interested Steelers at #17, I will be even more intrigued to see whether or not Pittsburgh’s brass make the developmental Outside Linebacker their 1st Round selection.
What to Like About Ansah…
From what I watched of Ezekiel Ansah, I would have to say that the potential is there for him to be a terrific pro player. For a guy his size (6’5″ 271 lbs.), “Ziggy” possesses a ridiculous amount of strength, speed (4.63, 40 Yard Dash), and agility. Do not get me wrong, Ansah is a extremely as a pass-rusher, and his technique and hand-placement could use some work when he gets locked in with Offensive Linemen. Yet “Ziggy’s” athleticism bodes well for him to learn an array of moves and counter-moves as a pass-rushing Outside Linebacker at the pro level.
Ansah’s versatility is what also should help to drive him up draft boards around the League. Not only did he line up at his Defensive End position in B.Y.U.’s 3-4 Defense, but he also line up along the Interior of their Defensive Line, and even as an outside pass-rusher when the situations called for him to do so. During his Senior season, Ansah emerged as arguably the Cougars’ best Defensive player and registered 62 Tackles, 13.0 TFL’s, 4.5 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble, and 1 Interception. Amazingly, the B.Y.U. Defensive End recorded 9 Pass Breakups as well last year, and showed off his J.J. Watt-like skills when he swatted passes down near the line of scrimmage.
As we are heading towards March, even if James Harrison’s contract is restructured, the Steelers will still have a need for depth and future starters at Outside Linebacker. So if Ansah does fall to them, the idea of the pick itself would make sense. Yet as effective as Ansah was last year for the Cougars, and as incredible as his talent-ceiling is down the road, I nevertheless have some skepticism regarding how well he will ultimately translate to the N.F.L., especially early in his career.
Why Ansah Is Not a Good Fit, and Why I Hope the Steelers Look Elsewhere…
At least to me, Ansah is not the type of “plug & play” player who the Steelers need at the moment, and has too many questions surrounding him for the Steelers to consider taking a gamble on a player like him. The raw athleticism and skill-set are there to develop, there is no denying that.
Yet Ansah is just an incredibly inexperienced player at this stage of his life. In fact, “Ziggy” has only played THREE YEARS of organized football, EVER! And regardless of what his most ardent supporters believe, a significant amount of time will to be taken for Ziggy to hone his skill-set, develop pass-rushing moves, work on his leverage, and eventually develop into an every-down player at the professional level.
For example, Ansah will have to deal with the incredible athleticism and discipline of some of the N.F.L.’s best Offensive Tackles when he finally arrives at the professional level. No offense to B.Y.U.’s competition last year, but I would say that guys like the Browns Joe Thomas and the Bengals Andrew Whitworth are much more capable of handling what Ansah throws at them from a pass-rushing perspective than an Offensive Tackle from Utah State, San Diego State, or Hawai’i could ever do against him back in 2012. What happens when the Tackles are not only more athletic than him, but also more aggressive than him? What happens when Marshall Yanda pulls on a play and absolutely flattens him?
Then again, Ansah will likely have to learn the Steelers’ apparently “complex” and “difficult” Defensive scheme to even see the field under Dick LeBeau’s regime, and we have seen multiple Draft Picks rot on the bench for extended periods in recent memory. If in fact LeBeau gets his way in that scenario, the Steelers might not receive a large amount of production from the already 23 year-old player until possibly his 3rd or 4th year in the League!
While giving Ansah time to develop would be the right call, I still must ask the following questions…
- What is the point of drafting a player so high, for likely zero productivity in the short term?
- Will Ansah be capable of developing adequate moves and counter-moves against N.F.L. caliber Tackles?
- How many years can Ansah start before he reaches UFA status?
- Will he get frustrated and discouraged if he doesn’t play regularly, or cannot contribute right away?
- What will happen to his confidence if fails miserably at the beginning of his career due to his inexperience?
- How will he respond to criticism if he doesn’t produce after a substantial investment is made in him?
- Of his teammates on the Defensive side of the ball, whom can Ansah turn to in the locker room for help as he adjusts?
If we revved up the DeLorean to 88 MPH and went back to say 2008, 2009, 2010, or even 2011, I would be totally excited with the thought of the Steelers selecting Ansah with their 1st Round pick. In fact, I would be a strong proponent of the Steelers trading into the Top 10 to select him. But you know what readers? It’s not 2008! Back in those days, the Steelers were a stacked and contending team with legitimate Super Bowl hopes. In those days, they possessed the luxury of taking chances on raw athletes like Ansah because they had the roster depth and the cap space to support it. Heck, they even did something similar when they thought that they could successfully turn 2009 1st Round pick Evander Hood into an effective 2-Gap Defensive End almost four years ago.
Like it or not readers, but the Steelers will need all the draft selections they can get over the next few years just to get back to a competitive level within their own Division, and yes I’m even including the Browns. Thus, for Colbert & Co. to go “all in” on a player who started only one season of major college football, while possibly even trading some valuable picks in the process to obtain him would be a somewhat asinine and misguided decision.
Who knows though? Maybe the franchise’s supposed “love” for Ansah is simply a “smoke-screen” meant to force other teams in front and behind them to show their proverbial “hands’” and over-draft the former Cougar?
What I do know is that I am definitely not on the “Draft Ansah No Matter the Cost” Bandwagon.