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Ezekiel Ansah is putting it all together for the Lions, and that's terrifying

The Lions took a chance by taking Ezekiel Ansah fifth overall in 2013. After two seasons of much-needed polish, however, Ansah may be about to wreck house in the NFC North.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

There are certain guys who just get me excited when I watch them play. It doesn't really matter what position they play, but when I see a dude who is physical, plays with great technique and also has an unreal motor? Listen man, I get hyped!

Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah definitely fits that mold.

At this point in his career, it's kind of hard to believe this kid had never even played football until college. Like, seriously, never.

Hell, it's not like he played when he first got to college, either. Ansah had an academic scholarship to BYU and tried his hand at both basketball and track before being convinced to go out for the football team. Imagine teaching a college kid how to play football. Now imagine teaching a college kid who grew up in Ghana and has literally never played how to play football.

And yet turn your TV to a Lions game on any Sunday, and you are guaranteed to see Ansah putting boots to asses! Seriously.

Now, I understand why people were skeptical when the Lions made him the fifth overall pick in 2013. Here was a guy who had only been playing for three years and wasn't even a starter at the beginning of his senior season. For me, however, I saw what I needed to see from his senior year to be convinced.

One of the toughest positions to play is defensive tackle. And I'm not just talking about skills. I mean the literal definition of "tough." You generally have one, sometimes two, 300-pound dudes trying to kick your ass every single play. They're just pounding on you over and over, from the first to the last play. You have to be tough enough to not only take that punishment but hand some out of your own.

Here was Ansah, who was tall at 6'5 but a little light in the ass at somewhere around 260 or 270 pounds, trying to battle these college behemoths, playing a position he was unfamiliar with and undersized for, all because of an injury to one of his teammates. I swear he never even blinked.

He may not have made a ton of plays, but he went up and down the line handing out ass-whoopings every week. Most plays, he fought men 30 or 40 pounds heavier than him to at least a draw, and many times he straight up kicked their teeth in. It was that hard-nosed mentality that showed me he could rise to pretty much any challenge and not only survive, but excel.

It didn't hurt that he also looked great in the Senior Bowl and ran an incredible 4.63 40-yard dash at the combine, which was just silly for a man of his size. So he had the mental toughness and the physical tools. The only thing left that he would need to ball out would be better technique.

Over his first two seasons in Detroit, you could see him evolving quickly. At first he just tried to run everybody over, especially as a pass rusher. Eventually, he started to mix in some finesse moves. He might bull rush an offensive tackle and pancake him on one play, then blow by him with a speed rush on the next. The more he continued to sharpen his skills, the harder it became to block him.

Now some of you may be saying, "But Steve, the dude had eight sacks his rookie season and 7.5 sacks last season. How can he be a breakout player at this point?"

Yeah, about that.

See, I don't consider Ansah's first two seasons a disappointment. In fact, I would argue he has played his ass off, and like I said, his improvement over that time period is readily apparent on film.

However, I see a guy who has made great strides in a short period of time, but hasn't quite put it all together.

I say that because he just looks bigger than everybody else. When I see him walking around in his own huddle and he just looks so much more physically imposing than anybody else, I'm reminded of guys like Julius Peppers and Mario Williams, who also have that same effect. All three guys look like men among boys, and while Ansah isn't quite as tall as either of those guys, he has just as much potential. The only difference to this point is that Peppers and Williams grew up learning to play football while Ansah has been playing catch-up these last five years.

After watching his film last year, especially toward the end of the season, I think it's safe to say that in 2015, barring injury, we will see that Ansah is all caught up. And I'm not just talking about sacks, although I would expect him to be well into the mid-double digits. I'm talking about being a destructive force. Somebody who doesn't simply "make plays," but destroys game plans week after week.

I also believe that, in some ways, having the Lions' top three defensive tackles all leave via free agency this spring will be a boon to Ansah's production and evolution. I mean that not only in the sense that there is likely to be less competition for sacks with those guys gone, but because I believe Ansah can now line up inside on third and long from time to time and really give interior linemen major headaches. That's something he couldn't have done with those guys still around. The more the Lions can move Ansah around, the less chance opposing offensive coordinators can game plan to stop him.

If Detroit can use him to take advantage of mismatches up front? Let's just say it could get real ugly, real fast.

As well as Ansah has played his first two seasons, I think that was just the tip of the iceberg. I expect him to take a huge leap this season and push for a Pro Bowl spot.