Posts Tagged ‘bull rush’

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!

Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (34) reaches for Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly (10) in their game Sept. 15, 2012 at Farout Field. The Tigers held off a 4th quarter comeback to beat the Sun Devils 24-20.

Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (34) reaches for Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly (10) in their game Sept. 15, 2012 at Farout Field. The Tigers held off a 4th quarter comeback to beat the Sun Devils 24-20.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (6′ 4″, 295 lbs.) is not one of the flashier names that will show up on the board of the 2013 NFL Draft. Richardson, originally from St. Louis, went to College of the Sequoias, and junior college in Visalia, California, after graduating from Gateway Tech High School. Richardson was a dominant defensive lineman and tight end at Gateway Tech. He was the #4 overall player (any position) in the nation according to Rivals.com, and he was the #1 defensive tackle prospect in the country. He was also the #1 overall player in Missouri, and he originally signed with Mizzou as part of the 2009 signing class, before going the junior college route (due to academic issues). Richardson was named as a 2008 EA Sports First Team All-American after a senior season at Gateway Tech which included 88 tackles and 19 sacks, while adding seven fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles and one interception. He scored six defensive touchdowns his senior season, and added 27 receptions for 541 yards and eight touchdowns at TE. At College of the Sequoias, he put up 65 tackles, 17 0f which were for loss during his second season with the Giants.

Here are his stats with the Missouri Tigers: 112 total tackles, 6 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 4 passes defended in two years (24 games)

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

AGILITY: 

Sheldon Richardson is blessed with a very quick first step that helps him penetrate his gap faster than just about anyone in this year’s draft. He wins many of his get-off battles because of that first step. He is also very quick when he slants. This can best be seen in the Alabama video at the 5:00 mark. In this play, Richardson uses his agility and extremely fast first step to get inside of the offensive tackle that is trying to block him. The tackle stands no chance and Richardson quickly gets by and sacks Alabama QB AJ McCarron before he even has a chance to read the coverage. 9.5/10.0

BULL RUSH: 

Richardson is very strong and has quick feet, and this helps make his bull rush pretty dang good. Richardson possesses the power to push whatever lineman he is going up against all the way back into the quarterback, which, trust me, is not something a QB wants. This causes the play to break down, the QB to scramble, and hopefully (in Richardson’s eyes, at least) a sack. This also helps him in his run defense. He can push the lineman back and make the running back juke to whatever hole suits Richardson and his defense best. Sometime his bull rush can hurt him, but I’ll get into that later. All things considered, he has a great bull rush. 9.0/10.0

SPEED RUSH:

As a defensive tackle, Richardson does not get use a speed rush very often. There are times when he would get the chance, as when Missouri would run what I call an “exit” stunt. (Basically: A defensive end slants inside and the defensive tackle slants outside to replace him). He rarely used that chance, however. So, this grade is based on not much tape, but it is also a very rarely used move for defensive tackles, so I understand why there is very little tape. 7.0/10.0

RUN DEFENSE: 

The main thing that I noticed when it comes to Richardson’s run defense is that it takes him a long time to read the play and realize where the running back is going most of the time. There were times when he would diagnose it in his head right away, but most of the time he would use that first step, lock on to the lineman, lockout his arms, and drive the lineman back, which is good, but he would be trying to read the play while doing that, and sometimes he would completely miss the play. Others, he would diagnose the play right away, but he needs to work on reading runs. He also has a tendency to get turned by linemen and allow them to create a hole and take him wide, which is a cardinal sin, and something that he needs to work on preventing going forward. He also can over pursue at times. 8.0/10.0

SPEED/BURST: 

As I have said multiple times, Richardson’s burst is amazing! His first step is as quick as they get and he can beat just about any lineman off the line. His speed (4.89 sec. 40 yard dash) is pretty good and it allows him to catch up to quarterbacks who have scrambled out of the pocket on passes and running backs who are scrambling around in the backfield when he gets penetration. I like his speed a lot and I think it will help him going forward. 9.0/10.o

STRENGTH: 

Sheldon Richardson is a strong man. He pushes 300+ offensive lineman back 5+ yards until they run into their own quarterback. And let me tell you, when those guys are trying to drive you down the field, it takes a ton of force and strength to move them at all, and to be able to overpower them and move them back at least 5 yards? That’s amazing. Definitely something I love about him and NFL teams will love it too. 9.5/10.0

PASS DEFLECT: 

He only knocked down four passes in two years at Missouri, so this is definitely not his strongest area. His future coaches will need to work with him on getting his hands up when he can’t get to the quarterback and knocking more passes d0wn. There is nothing better than a DT that loves to knock passes down. It’s a drive killer and a great quality. If he can get better at this, than he can become a great DT (or NT) in the NFL. 7.0/10.0

TACKLE: 

There were times in his tape that Richardson would look like he had a chance to take down a running back in the backfield only to miss the tackle and allow the RB to get a first down. Sometimes this had to do with the running back (there was one play, and I can’t remember where it is in the video, where Richardson had his hands on Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, only to have Lacy break the tackle and get a first down), and sometimes it had to do with Richardson’s form. Richardson is usually a good tackler, but no one likes to see missed tackles in the backfield. 8.5/10.0

READ AND REACT:

I mentioned this in the “Run Defense” section, and I’m basically reiterating it here. There are times when it takes Richardson too long to diagnose a play. Other times it would be fast, but he does need to improve on this in the run game. In the pass game, he reads and reacts very quickly, which makes me wonder why he is so slow on runs. 8.0/10.0

HEALTH: 

The only question that lingers about Richardson’s health is the shoulder surgery that he had before the 2012 season. It didn’t look like it really hampered him during the fall but it will be something that NFL teams monitor throughout this process. 9.0/10.0

OVERALL: 

Overall, Richardson receives a 8.45/10.00 from me. If I can see some improvement in that reading and reacting in the run game, then that number will go way up. I really like Sheldon Richardson. I can see now why he was such a huge prospect coming out of high school and I can’t wait to see him playing on Sundays. I really do believe that he will fix the issues he has and become a perennial Pro Bowl level defensive tackle. Now as to who I think will draft him? The mock drafts I have seen have him going anywhere from #10-#18 overall, and for me the teams with the best chances of picking him are the Dolphins, Steelers, or Cowboys. And, I really think the Cowboys have this one. Both the Dolphins and the Steelers are in need of defensive linemen, but I think the Steelers will focus more on a defensive end, and the Dolphins have so many needs that I just don’t see them picking Richardson, or any other defensive lineman, in the first round. Look for Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys to pick up Sheldon Richardson in the first round on April 25.

HIGHLIGHTS: 

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

Next, I’ll be previewing Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert!

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!