IDP Rookie Spotlight Series: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Before I get to the report, allow me to indulge in the greatness of the perfect meal trifecta that us Canadians affectionately call poutine. One of the sources of inspiration for this article was the smile on friends faces when I suggested poutine as our late night destination to soak up the “suds”.
Just like an IDP roster, you can make a very mediocre poutine if you don’t have the right balance of ingredients. If linebackers are french fries and defensive linemen are cheese curds and defensive backs are the gravy, you can’t achieve the perfect poutine if you load up on only one of the ingredients. There’s nothing worse than a poutine that is all fries with little to no cheese curds and/or gravy. But you can also ruin a poutine with too much gravy and/or cheese curds. It’s all about balance and execution.
Any old schmuck can cook up some fries and dump some gravy and cheese on it. But if you want perfection, you gotta cook them fries right. If you overcook them and they’re too crispy then it’s harder to fold them in half and make mini fries and cheese sandwiches coated in gravy. The quality of the fry is important as well. Shoestring fries, too thin. Wedges or country style fries, too thick. The perfect french fry is straight and preferably with the skin on.
Next up is the cheese curds. Now don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy a poutine that is made with shredded mozzerella cheese as much as the next guy. But a real poutine has cheese curds. The only problem with cheese curds is sometimes they stick together and form a single golf ball sized curd. And that’s not what you want. A poutine ninja will bust out a samarai sword and slice that monster sized curd into smaller curds so that no fry is left behind without cheese. Again, it’s about balance and execution.
The gravy? Same thing. Too thick and it becomes way too hearty and heavy of a meal. Too thin and all of a sudden you’re just eating french fries and leaving a pile of cheese behind to sit in a puddle of gravy. And who benefits from that? The answer is nobody! If you leave a pile of cheese curds and a puddle of gravy behind then the terrorists have won.
With that said, don’t be afraid to experiment. There are countless combinations of poutine extras. Add in some pulled pork and/or bacon or some philly cheese steak and you won’t be disappointed. Ground beef, veggies… you name it. The morale of the story: Don’t go heavy on the fries (linebackers). The cheese (defensive linemen) and gravy (defensive backs) are important too. On to the report.
Tale of the Tape/Position – 6’5″, 271 lbs, DE, BYU, Senior
Athleticism – “Ziggy” Ansah is the prototypical 4-3 defensive end. Having said that, he’s athletic enough to play OLB in a 3-4 as well. For a guy his size, he’s incredibly agile and one of my favorites in this draft. I mean seriously, what kind of man who is 6’5″ and 270+ runs a 4.60 forty? Needless to say, I was impressed with what I saw from him at the combine. He’s got a background in sprinting and initially thought he’d make it as a basketball player. And you know what they say about basketball players who switch to football. They’re usually athletic phenoms.
A little stiff in the hips when changing directions or in a back peddle but that’s not where he’ll be most effective anyway. Blessed with 35″+ arm length, he only needs a little push to fill up the lane and make a tackle. We’ll continue to hear about how raw of a prospect he is since the bulk of his playing time came in his senior year, but he clearly has enough natural talent to be a force in the NFL. He’s got plenty of power to go with elite speed off the snap so hopefully it’s just a matter of time before he puts it all together.
Instincts/Intelligence - It’s hard to give him a glowing review in this area considering he doesn’t have 4 years of college ball experience. He became a starter in his senior year so he’ll likely spend his first year as a situational pass rusher. His greatest strength could lead to huge mistakes if he takes himself out of the play by biting on a fake. Anyone who drafts him should be patient with him. Stash him on your bench or taxi squad and watch him develop.
Run Defense - Very willing tackler and the type of player who won’t give up on a play. He’ll be able to chase down more runners than the average defensive lineman with that kind of speed. He’ll need to take advantage of his length to gain separation when shedding blockers to be an efficient run stopper but with such limited experience, he can only improve from here. If he’s in position, he’ll make the play. With some time and proper coaching, he’ll be able to diagnose the play and not get caught out of position.
Coverage/Pass defense - He does have a little experience in coverage since BYU moved him around a bit but again, this isn’t his area of expertise. Again, with time and coaching I’m sure he could be effective in coverage. He’s blessed with tremendous natural abilities and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him cover RBs and TEs in the flats effectively in the near future.
Pass Rush/Blitzing - This is where he’s going to make his money. Granted, it seems kind of silly to say that considering he only had 4.5 sacks in 3 years but this is why he’s a legit first round prospect. He’s got a great first step and explodes of the line and shows great power and speed to get around his opponent. Once he adds a few moves to his arsenal, he could be a lethal pass rusher. From the reports I’ve read, he improved every day. From his senior year to the Senior Bowl, he seems to be getting more comfortable every time he steps on the field.
Intangibles/Character - Great worth ethic and no red flags that I’ve aware of. Let’s face it, he went to BYU. Nothing to see here. I’d be shocked to hear that he wasn’t a good teammate or had run-ins with the law.
Comparison - The obvious comparison is Jason Pierre-Paul and I can’t think of a better one. Great combination of size, power and speed with more natural ability then most defensive lineman coming out of college. Obviously, he’ll be a bit of a project due to his lack of experience but the arrow is pointing up for him. I’m tempted to declare him as the #1 DE prospect in this draft but I’m holding him back since his numbers and success at the college level aren’t anything special. There’s no denying his potential though. And JPP didn’t take long to be a force even though he was tagged as an extremely raw prospect at the time.