Archive for the ‘Defensive End’ Category

BYU defensive end/outside linebacker Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah (47) intercepts a tipped pass against San Diego State in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA on Dec. 20, 2012. The Cougars defeated the Aztecs 23-6.

BYU defensive end/outside linebacker Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah (47) intercepts a tipped pass against San Diego State in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA on Dec. 20, 2012. The Cougars defeated the Aztecs 23-6. (Source: patriots.com)

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.

AGILITY: 

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

BULL RUSH: 

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

SPEED RUSH:

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

RUN DEFENSE: 

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

SPEED/BURST: 

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

STRENGTH:

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

PASS DEFENSE:

Ziggy Ansah 2

Ansah knock as pass down against Washington State.

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

TACKLE: 

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.

HEALTH: 

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

OVERALL:

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.

HIGHLIGHTS:

 

Let me know what you think in the comments below and follow us on Twitter! @J_Vinton52 @OnTheClockNFL

Tomorrow I will be previewing Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington!

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By Jeff Vinton, blogger/editor On the Clock

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, above, had a horrible showing at the NFL Combine Monday that include a 4.82 second 40-yard dash, .17 seconds more than his pre-Combine time.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, above, had a horrible showing at the NFL Combine Monday that include a 4.82 second 40-yard dash, .17 seconds more than his pre-Combine time. Source: BleacherReport.com

The third day of the combine kicked off with linebackers and defensive linemen going through drills at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and all eyes focused mainly on one player. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.

By now everyone knows Te’o’s story. Heisman trophy candidate (finished 2nd), winner of the Maxwell, Walter Camp, Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski and Butkus awards, had to play the Michigan State game the week when his “girlfriend” (who later turned out to be fake, made up by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo as part of a “catfish” scam) and grandmother died within hours of each other. He was on top of the college football world. Notre Dame was undefeated, #1 in the nation for the first time since 1993, and then, January hit.

Alabama throttled Notre Dame in the National Championship game 42-14. Deadspin.com published the story about the catfish scam. Te’o began to drop down draft boards, and his life began to unravel.

What happened today is not going to help his cause. Today, Te’o posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.82 seconds. That is .17 seconds slower than his CBSSports.com Draft Profile had recorded for him on Sunday. And when one is in the middle of a field trying to catch a running back or keep up with a wide receiver, that .17 seconds can be an eternity.

Thanks to what Te’o is referring to as “the incident,” he was already a fringe first round pick, down from a top 10 selection in December. Now that he has posted that 40 time, it is unlikely that he will even be selected in the first round. John Harbaugh, coach of the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, the team best suited to draft Te’o (and the team I chose as my pick to draft him in my preview Saturday) at the beginning of the day due to the retirement of future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, looked disappointed and disinterested in Te’o during coverage of the combine on NFL.com.

After today’s performance, it is likely that some of the lesser known linebackers will have a golden opportunity to jump up and take Te’o’s position in the first round. Te’o may drop to the second half of the second round, and maybe even the third round if he cannot improve on today’s performance at Notre Dame’s pro day on March 26.

Outside of Te’o’s debacle, there were great performances put on today. Missouri linebacker Zaviar Gooden put in the top 40 time for the day with a time of 4.47 seconds. The top defensive lineman in the 40 was Trevardo Williams of Connecticut with a time of 4.57. Top draft pick Barkevious Mingo of LSU put up a time of 4.58 and Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah ran a time of 4.63.

Three defensive linemen led the pack in the bench press with Brandon Williams of Missouri Southern State and Margus Hunt of SMU benching 225 pounds 38 times and Akeem Spence of Illinois benching it 37 times. Bjoern Werner (whose preview can be found in the Florida State, Linebacker, or Player Preview categories) benched 25 times and Ansah benched 21 times.

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (right) was not impressed with the showing of Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, running the 40-yard dash (left) at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Monday. Source: thebiglead.com

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (right) was not impressed with the showing of Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, running the 40-yard dash (left) at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Monday.
Source: thebiglead.com

Conversely, three linebackers had the highest verticals today. Jamie Collins of Southern Miss jumped 41.5 inches, while Cornelius Washington of Georgia jumped 39 inches and Sio Moore of UConn jumped 38 inches. Mingo jumped 37 inches in the air and Te’o jumped 33.

A mix of linemen and linebackers led the group in the broad jump. Collins leaped 139 inches (11’ 7”), which was a Combine record, Gooden leaped 131 inches (10’ 11”), South Carolina defensive lineman Devin Taylor, Washington and Mingo all flew 128 inches (10’ 8”). Ansah and Florida linebacker Jon Bostic leaped 118 inches (9’ 10”).

Another story coming in to the day was that Utah defensive lineman and potential top five draft pick Star Loutlelei was pulled out of participating in drills due to a heart condition. That condition has yet to be specified and coverage on that and all other things NFL Draft will continue through April 27 on On the Clock: Your NFL Draft Destination.

Tomorrow, the defensive backs will take the field in Indianapolis for drills to close out the combine. On the Clock’s Bill Slane will have the coverage.

Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook! @J_Vinton52 @OnTheClockNFL

You can call any position you draft a hit or miss proposition, but I think that a pass rusher is probably the most hit or miss position you can draft. Players can be absolutely dominating in college and come to the NFL and do absolutely nothing, i.e. Vernon Gholston. All a scout or general manager can really do is evaluate what they see on film and hope that he works out. With that in mind, Barkevious Mingo from LSU looks great on film and while it is still difficult to say whether or not he will work out in the NFL, I would be shocked if ended up being a complete bust.

Mingo is an intimidating human being; standing at 6’4” he has some great size for a defensive end and has a good wingspan. He has a great knack for batting balls down at the line of scrimmage, which is certainly a skill that NFL scouts will love to see when they watch his film. His length is something that not many human beings have, and it’s something any NFL team would love to add to their front seven.

Barkevious mainly played defensive end in LSU’s primarily 4-3 defensive scheme and did a great job of pushing the line back and creating havoc in the backfield. He also did a pretty good job in coverage when asked to spy on the opposing running back. I could easily see Mingo moving to outside linebacker in a 3-4 if he can continue working on his coverage abilities. It seems like Mingo is very flexible and defensive coordinators will fall in love with figuring out ways to use him their defensive schemes with exotic blitzes and coverages.

While Mingo didn’t have an outrageously high sack total this past season, only recording 4.5 sacks, he was a force in the Tiger’s defense. On nearly every play I watched, I saw him push back the offensive and create a new line of scrimmage, creating chaos in the opposing team’s backfield.  Mingo also plays the run fairly well; in three years for LSU Mingo recorded tackles for loss, a pretty impressive total.

One of the most impressive things I noticed about Mingo is his ability to take on double teams. Mingo was certainly known by other team’s offensive coordinators, so he had to deal with double teams regularly. Even with this hurdle, Mingo was still able to cause a lot of disruption, which is something that really impressed me while watching his film.

Mingo is just simply an impressive player to watch on film. He just seems like the kind of defensive player that can wear down an offensive line over the course of a game. He has great size, good speed, a good arsenal of pass rush moves, can play the run as well as the pass, and has some experience in pass coverage. I would have no problem taking Mingo in the top 10 and I think there is a good chance he makes an impact right away rushing the passer; that being said, there is no way I can be 100% that he won’t be a bust. I can only reiterate that I would be shocked if Mingo ended of being a flop of an NFL player.

Follow me on Twitter: @bill_slane

Highlights : 

Bjoern Werner (95) reaches for Wake Forest QB Tanner Price on Sept. 15, 2012

Bjoern Werner (95) reaches for Wake Forest QB Tanner Price (10) on Sept. 15, 2012

At 6′ 4″ and 256 lbs, Florida State’s Bjoern Werner is an intimidating figure. The defensive end originally from Berlin (and yes I mean Germany) has vaulted up draft boards (thanks to 13 sacks and 42 total tackles) this past year to become CBS’s #2 overall player and ESPN’s #8 player overall. From that it can be seen that scouts love this guy.

Now, I will evaluate him on these criteria: Agility, Bull Rush, Speed Rush, Run Defense, Speed/Burst, Strength, Pass Deflect, Tackle, Read and React, Health, and Overall.

AGILITY: 

Werner has amazing agility. He possesses the ability to change directions when he is going full speed in his pass rush and get around 300+ lb. offensive tackles and get to quarterbacks. He creates a ton of pressure in the backfield, but I’ll get more into that when I talk about his pass rushing. Werner also always keeps his feet moving which helps him a ton in this area. He has a rare motor that is going 100% of the time. It’s something I wish I could see out of every defensive end in the NCAA. 9.5/10.0

BULL RUSH: 

Werner is extremely strong and very technically sound and uses that to his advantage with his bull rush. Werner locks his arms out (pushes the offensive lineman back until his arms are completely straight) and keeps his feet driving and head up so that he can read the play. When he is in the position to use a bull rush, he pushes the o-lineman back about five yards and then throws him using basic throw or any of a bevy of moves that he has at his disposal. This is not the best part of his rush game, but it is still extremely good. 9.0/10.0

SPEED RUSH:

This is best part of Werner’s pass rushing and by far the one he uses most often. Because he is so fast and usually on the edge, Werner uses his speed to run around his offensive lineman and then throw a rip move when he turns toward the QB. Werner takes the best angle possible and closes in on the QB before one even knows it. The best example of this is in the Oklahoma game from 2011. At 1:12 in the video I will post below, Werner uses a perfect speed rush to close in on Sooner QB Landry Jones within three seconds. A NFL couldn’t ask for more from him. 9.5/10.0

RUN DEFENSE: 

This is probably the area of Werner’s game that could use the most work and it isn’t even really that bad. Werner can read any play almost instantaneously which helps him out a ton in this area. There are just times that he will get turned by an o-lineman or he will miss tackles on running backs. There are also sometimes where he over pursues, but honestly, what d-lineman doesn’t at one point or another. I never really saw Werner lose contain other than the times he got turned, which was only a couple. If I were an NFL team, I would look at that at his biggest area of improvement, but not really as an area of weakness. 8.0/10.0

SPEED/BURST: 

Werner is the fastest defensive lineman I have seen in quite some time. His speed rush is absolutely amazing and when he chases after a play that has gotten past him, he gets there in no time. Every play he bursts off of the line of scrimmage with amazing amounts of speed, quickness, and agility. He just possesses this rare motor that pushes him to speeds I only wish I could get to. 9.5/10.0

STRENGTH: 

Werner is one strong dude. That is the best way I can think to describe him. A great example is from that same Oklahoma game I mentioned earlier. (The play happens at 1:01 in the video) In the play, the FSU defensive is backed up at its own 3 and 1/2 yard line, and Werner uses a great burst like I mentioned above, and an amazing rip and basically holds the Oklahoma tight end who was blocking him in this heavy, goal line formation at his side with that one arm and puts enough pressure on Landry Jones that it forces him to throw the ball out of the back of the end zone. I cannot wait to see how many reps he puts up in the bench press test at the combine. 9.0/10.0

PASS DEFLECT: 

When a player gets compared to J.J. Watt (nicknamed “J.J. Swat”) for his ability to knock down passes, then they are obviously pretty good at it. And all of that applies to Bjoern Werner. Werner has taken what all defensive line coaches teach, which is to get your hands up if you can’t get to the quarterback, and made it into one of his best assets. I’m sure there have been QBs who have thrown to the other side than Werner is lined up on just because they don’t want to get the ball knocked down.  This ability can be seen throughout Werner’s tapes, but especially in the Virginia Tech and NC State games from this past season (1:10 in the VT video and 9:00 in the NC State video). 9.0/10.0

TACKLE: 

As I stated earlier, Werner is a good tackler, but he does miss some tackles in the run game. This will be something that he’ll need to improve on, but for now he is definitely a good enough tackler for the NFL and I can guarantee you there are teams salivating at the chance to have Werner on their defense. 8.5/10.0

READ AND REACT:

This was the first area that really struck me as being one of Werner’s best. I said this earlier, but I’ll say it again here. Werner can read plays and react with a pass rush or start reading for where the running back or quarterback is running almost instantaneously. It is an ability that not all players have and this will help him a ton at the next level. 9.5/10.0

HEALTH: 

I can’t think of any injuries that Werner suffered in college that will hamper him on Sundays (if he even suffered any injuries during college). So, yeah, he’s perfectly healthy. 10.0/10.0

OVERALL: 

I have Bjoern Werner as a 9.15/10.00, which is extremely good. Overall, I believe that Werner is a big, strong, technically-sound, fast guy who is ready to move onto the NFL and be one of the top 5 picks in the first round in April.

If it’s not already apparent, I love Bjoern Werner. I think that “The Germanator” is going to do some special things in the National Football League. Now where exactly do I see him getting drafted? I think KC is in love with Luke Joeckel, so as much as I wish he would go #1 so that there can be another top tier pass rusher in the AFC West other than Von Miller, I think Werner will go #2 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags are another team that are in desperate need of some one at almost every position, and I think that they’ll love what they see from Werner in the Combine and at his Pro Day March 19.

HIGHLIGHTS: 

Let me know what you think in the comments below and follow me on Twitter! @J_Vinton52 and tomorrow I’ll be previewing West Virginia QB Geno Smith!