Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah is not the typical NFL prospect. The 6′ 5″, 271 pound BYU Cougar originally hails from Accra, Ghana and grew up playing basketball. When Ziggy came came to America and Provo, Utah, specifically, he ran track for the Cougars for one year and tried and failed twice to walk on to the basketball team. From there, Ansah discovered football and convinced head coach Bronco Mendenhall to give him a chance. Ziggy became a special teams player in his second season in Provo and was starting on the defensive line last season, his senior year.
His full story can be found in these two videos from 2011:
Here are Ansah’s stats from BYU:
Career: 31 games played, 72 total tackles, 39 unassisted, 33 assisted, 13 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 7 quarterback hits, 9 passes broken up
2012: 13 games played (13 starts), 62 total tackles, 35 unassisted, 27 assisted, 13 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 6 quarterback hits, 9 passes broken up
Ansah, who originally dreamed of playing in the NBA, is now headed for a career in the NFL and it is time for me to evaluate him. My evaluation will consist of these categories: Agility, Bull Rush, Speed Rush, Run Defense, Speed/Burst, Strength, Pass Defense, Tackle, Read and React and Health.
Honestly, Ansah has some of the best natural agility that I have seen in this year’s crop of defensive linemen and linebackers. He can change direction as quick or quicker than just about anybody, and when he is engaged with a lineman (or any type of blocker, for that matter) he throws one of the quickest and best spin moves that I have seen. This spin move is flat out dirty and it is one of Ansah’s best assets. He is not as balanced as I would like to see, but that is because he is still learning and getting comfortable in his pads. 9.0/10.0
Ansah doesn’t have the strongest bull rush, but that is mainly due to the fact that sometimes he doesn’t stay low and that is a horrible thing for a defensive lineman to do. One of the main thing that coaches preach to defensive linemen is to “Keep your pads low!” When a D-lineman is lower than his offensive counterpart, then he can get leverage and push the o-lineman backward. Now, during my third year of football, I wasn’t very good at this either, but I also am no comparison to Ziggy Ansah. But, Ansah seems extremely coachable and I bet that we will see improvement in this when Ansah takes the field in September for his first NFL game. 7.75/10.00
When Ansah is lined up in his typical defensive end or outside linebacker spot (he also lined up at nose tackle and defensive tackle at BYU), he has a pretty dang good speed rush. He stays outside and then cuts inside, usually using his spin when he sees that the quarterback has handed the ball off to a running back on a draw or that the QB is setting up to throw the ball. He doesn’t always get inside (notably during the Notre Dame game), but when he does, he causes a ton of disruption for the offense, and if you don’t believe me, check out the Utah State highlights throughout the videos. 8.5/10.0
Ansah is a naturally good tackler, which helps him a ton in his run defense. He’s not the greatest at diagnosing the play (but who is after only three seasons?), but when he does see it, he uses the speed and burst that I will talk about in the next section to catch up to running backs and throw them to the ground. I am honestly hugely impressed with Ansah’s run defense. 8.75/10.00
Ansah ran a 4.63 40-yard dash at the Combine in Indy on Monday, sixth best among all the defensive linemen at the event. His speed and burst are even more impressive on the field. As I said in the last section, Ansah can chase down running backs who have gotten past him. There were times in his tape when he would come out of nowhere to make a tackle. He also has an insane burst when he sees a lane on a play. For example, in the Notre Dame game, Ansah was lined up at OLB and was left unblocked on a draw play. Ansah bursts through a lane on the Notre Dame line and takes Irish RB Theo Riddick down to the Notre Dame Stadium grass. That play shows Ansah’s burst more than almost any other. 8.75/10.00
If I were to say that Ansah is the strongest d-lineman in the draft, I’d be lying, but he is still really strong. He repped 225 pounds 21 times in the bench press test in Indianapolis and there are tons of plays where Ansah locks out 300+ pound offensive linemen to showcase how strong he really is. There is also a scene in the second video of Ansah’s story (above) that shows how strong he is. At one of BYU’s practices, Ansah lifts a blocking dummy (which, trust me, are not light) about six feet in the air and then throws it down to the ground as if it weighed nothing at all. That play showcased his strength to me more than any other. The best thing about Ansah’s strength is that there is more to come. He will benefit hugely from working with a NFL strength and conditioning coach to build a lot more strength in the weight room. I really cannot wait to see him in the NFL. 9.0/10.0
Ansah is about as good as it gets when it comes to defensive linemen against the pass. He broke up nine passes and even intercepted a pass this past season. I thought Bjoern Werner was about as good as it got for d-linemen here, but now that I have seen Ansah’s tape, I realize I was wrong. For Ansah, this all just comes naturally, and his pass defense is no exception. 9.25/10.00
I stated this earlier, and it seems like I’m saying this a lot, but tackling just comes naturally to Ziggy. He rarely misses a tackle and has learned well on how to form tackle from his coaches at BYU. He hits hard and doesn’t let players escape. If Ziggy gets ahold of a player, they are meeting the turf in some way. 9.0/10.0
READ AND REACT:
This is an area where Ziggy could improve, but it really has to do with the fact that he’s only been playing the game for three years. It takes a ton of time to be able to read formations and linemen well, and Ziggy can do that, it’s just not as fast as I would like to see. But, I believe that he will improve with time in the NFL. So for right now my rating is 7.0/10.0, but I truly believe that he will improve and improve fast.
No injury problems currently, but with an inexperienced player, injuries are always a risk because of poor technique and learning how to defend different things that offensive players do (ex: cut blocks, a lesson I learned the hard way). 10.0/10.0
If it’s not already obvious, I think that Ziggy Ansah is the best defensive lineman or outside linebacker available in this year’s draft. Overall, he got a score of I think that he has almost limitless potential. Here’s how I see it. If had his ability after only three seasons of football, then I would have a FBS scholarship and still be playing instead of sitting behind my computer screen writing about players. He is one of the most naturally gifted players that I have seen in a l0ng time, and I believe that with some coaching, then he will be an All-Pro defensive player. He is raw, but there is just a ton of potential there. Now as to where Ansah will be drafted. Various sources have him going anywhere from picks 6 to 19, and I believe really believe that he’ll be off the board quick at pick #6 to the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are still trying to build a competing team the likes of which they had before the old Browns moved to Baltimore. Ansah will help them out a ton on the defensive side of the ball and they will have the time to properly develop him to his true potential.
Tomorrow I will be previewing Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington!