Ezekiel Ansah | Defensive End | BYU | 6'5, 271 pounds
He didn't even want to play football at first, and now he could be a top 10 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. The story of Ezekiel Ansah has been well told at this point. He came to BYU from Gahna, wanting to be a basketball star. Having never played football in his life, he tried to walk on the team after failing to make the basketball team. The rest is history.
Ansah's game is unrefined, but former basketball hopeful has the length and athleticism to make a huge impact in the NFL. Any team that drafts him early will be taking a chance that his natural ability will overcome his lack of playing experience, but Ansah has already made significant improvement since first strapping on the helmet. Now he has to take the next step.
Ansah's athleticism alone is enough to get the attention of NFL scouts. He possesses a blend of size, speed and quickness that not many prospects in his class can match. His raw strength at the line of scrimmage is his best asset, and while many question his technique, he's come a long way for someone who just started playing football.
Scheme won't be a huge issue for Ansah. He has played various position across different defensive alignments and excelled in every role he's filled. As a standup linebacker, Ansah has the fluidity to make plays and space and the closing speed to cover a ton of ground in the open field. The strides he makes at each position shows he is coachable and willing to play a variety of roles.
For a raw player that is new to football, run defense is usually an issue. That hasn't been the case for Ansah, though. He's consistently shown a strong anchor against the run and adequate hand usage to disengage from blocks and make tackles.
Ansah's technique still has a way to go before he will be a consistent enough threat off the edge. He really doesn't have too many pass-rushing moves, relying on his strength and athleticism to overpower or outrun blockers on his way to the quarterback. Imagine what he could do with a more refined set of pass rushing skills.
From a technical standpoint, Ansah could improve against the run as well. He doesn't always recognize plays well and allows blocker to get inside of him too often. He needs to learn how to use his hands and extends his arms off the snap to more consistently get into the backfield.
I would have no reservations about drafting Ansah in the top 10 of the 2013 NFL Draft. In a class that supposedly lacks elite talent at the top, Ansah has tons of it. He is not nearly as raw as you might expect given his lack of playing experience, and the development he has shown throughout his college career is reason enough for optimism that his growth will continue in the NFL.
NFL Player Comparison: Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants
Jason Pierre-Paul and Ansah have different skill sets, but their situations are similar coming out of college. Both were questioned for their inexperience and labeled as raw. Pierre-Paul has found success through coaching and outstanding passion on his part. Ansah may need some of the same ingredients to find success, but his ceiling is just as high.