2013 NFL Draft – Option 3 for Pick #6 – Cleveland Browns
Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah – Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Brigham Young University
Analysis: Another intriguing alternative for the Browns is the dominant athlete born in Ghana, Africa. As mentioned (in the Option 2 for Pick #6 Blog), the team can never have enough depth at the outside linebacker position. Getting the highly touted star would bolster the corps and might take some pressure off of Paul Kruger, Quentin Groves, and Jabaal Sheard. Perhaps Ansah will be able to transition very easily between linebacker and defensive end – keeping him on the field longer.
Surprisingly, the Browns were fourth in the league in tackles last season with 1,127 stops. However, this stat could be misinterpreted to think they had one of the better defenses in the league. Being on the field a majority of the time, and there are more opportunities for the defense to record tackles. Going forward, the franchise will need to have impactful tackles; some that are for losses and others that can change the course of the game.
Biography: Growing up nearly five thousand miles from the U.S., Ansah was heavily involved in sports. However, he initially chose soccer and basketball; after a suggestion from a Mormon missionary, the athlete attempted to continue playing in college (at Brigham Young University). The result was two failed try-outs and a switch to the track team – for a year. In 2010, he was then persuaded to get onto the gridiron and play an unknown sport of football. After learning the proper rules and techniques, Ansah’s statistics shot up significantly. This culminated in 2012, when four-and-a-half sacks, thirteen tackles for a loss, and sixty-two stops occurred for the outside linebacker. He was a part of a defense that allowed just over eighty-four rushing yards per game (2nd in the nation) and was fifth in scoring defense (176 points allowed).
Front offices are intrigued at how a talented athlete, with no prior knowledge of the game, can become one of the better defenders just two seasons later. Many would feel that with year-round training and workouts, Ansah might be an elite defensive end or outside linebacker at the next level. Several scouts felt confident following the Senior Bowl, as the Ghanan-born star was dominant in practice. He followed that up with a team-high seven tackles and a sack-and-a-half on the opposing quarterback (during the game); thus further rising his draft stock.
Standing at fix-feet, five inches and weighing two hundred seventy-one pounds, and Ansah has tremendous size for the NFL. A forty-yard dash time of 4.63 seconds and one of the best performances in the twenty-yard shuttle (4.26 seconds) turned heads at the NFL Combine. However, critics still worry about his desire for the game and debate possible long-term success.
Conclusion: Along the lines of Dion Jordan, Ezekiel Ansah would likely not be a starter at the beginning of the 2013 season for the Cleveland Browns. There is a great probability that the former BYU star will have to learn the professional game and its differences from NCAA football. However, perhaps simplifying tasks for the athlete may be the best thing – the team could ask Ansah to exclusively rush the quarterback early on. Should he excel in that facet, the Browns could then employ additional tasks during games. Regardless of his role, opponents would have to keep an eye on the outside linebacker when he is on the field.
In addition to a few talented linebackers already on the roster, some of the negatives regarding Ansah have to do with his history with football. Will he continue to love the sport and have a daily passion for years to come? Would he finish his career early to return home and be with his family in Ghana? Additionally, detractors may downplay some of the defender’s collegiate statistics – as his team played a schedule ranked in the bottom half of the country (according to Phil Steele). Brigham Young University faced a few solid opponents, like Notre Dame, but the overall competition does not compare to that of the SEC.
Should neither Dee Milliner nor Dion Jordan be available, I hope the Cleveland Browns draft Ezekiel Ansah with the sixth overall draft selection. He has one of the highest “ceilings” in the draft class and can become an exceptional NFL defender.
Additional Defensive Options: Although the defense seems to have multiple stars along the line, the team may grab a highly touted one in the first round (should they be available). Two of these are Sharrif Floyd (University of Florida) and Star Lotulelei (University of Utah). Floyd will likely be taken within the first three picks, but if he’s still there at number six the Browns could steal a great defensive tackle. Lotulelei was diagnosed with a heart condition at the combine, but he has since been given a clean bill of health. Should the Browns determine there are no health risks, they may surprise a few people and take the University of Utah athlete (who was once considered to be the number one ranked prospect).