The stories regarding the history of former BYU defensive end Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah have been told and re-told:
Coming to Provo from Accra, Ghana, being cut from the Cougar basketball team, bumping people while sprinting on the track team, being introduced to football with no understanding of how to put on his pads and finally becoming a force on the BYU defense.
With the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft just around the corner (Thursday, 6 p.m., NFL Network), the focus now turns from the past to Ansah’s future.
In a year where few draft analysts agree on anything, opinions on the potential destinations for the talented ex-Cougar remain widely varied.
A survey of 16 recent mock drafts posted by experts on a variety of national sports Web sites, however, narrows the potential pool down a little bit.
Here’s a look at the teams most likely to select Ansah in the upcoming draft:
Detroit (No. 5 pick in the draft)
2012 record: 4-12
Head coach: Jim Schwartz (hired in 2009)
Reasoning: All three experts who predicted this scenario noted that the Lion coaching staff coached Ansah in the 2013 Senior Bowl, a game in which Ziggy was named the South’s Most Outstanding Player.
“The Lions have one of the better interior defensive lines in the NFL with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, but need to add pass rushers in the draft,” wrote Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com on a mock draft that was also posted on CBSSports.com. “Ansah offers positional versatility and can do a lot of things at the next level, plus the Lions staff is familiar with him after coaching him at the Senior Bowl.”
Cleveland (No. 6)
2012 record: 5-11
Head coach: Rob Chudzinski (hired in 2013)
Reasoning: Three other experts placed Ansah with former Timpanogos and Utah star Paul Kruger, who signed with the Browns after winning the 2013 Super Bowl title as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
“The more versatile players the Browns stockpile, the easier their transition to a 3-4 defense,” wrote Don Banks in his mock draft posted on SI.com. “Ansah has played every position on the defensive line and at outside linebacker, sometimes during a single game. And Cleveland will grow to love his effort, intensity and playmaking instinct.”
Tennessee (No. 10)
2012 record: 6-10
Head coach: Mike Munchak (hired in 2011)
Reasoning: The point made by the writers of the three mock drafts who had Ansah heading to the Titans was that Tennessee likes to go after athletic players with potential — a profile that definitely fits Ziggy.
"Last year, the Titans selected an explosive athlete in the first round in the person of Baylor WR Kendall Wright,” pointed out Doug Farrar of Yahoo! Sports in his mock draft. “With needs in their defense against the pass and the run, we wouldn't be surprised if they took a flyer on Ansah's rawness from a football perspective, and bet on his pure athletic potential."
Arizona (No. 7)
2012 record: 5-11
Head coach: Bruce Arians (hired in 2013)
Reasoning: The Cardinals had an excellent defense in 2012 but both experts who thought Arizona might select Ansah said he could be a big addition. It’s just not clear if the team will go that direction.
“Many presume the Cardinals will select an offensive tackle with this pick but with rookie Bobby Massie steadily progressing at right tackle a season ago and Levi Brown expected back after missing all of last season with a torn tricep, Arizona isn't as needy up front as suggest,” said Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com on a mock draft that was also posted on CBSSports.com.
“Instead, general manager Steve Keim may elect to upgrade the team's pass rushers, especially given the news that inside linebacker Daryl Washington, who led the team with nine sacks in 2012, will miss four games next year due to a violation of the league's substance abuse policy.
“With just nine starts on his resume', Ansah is undeniably raw but he possesses the most intriguing combination of size, athleticism and power of this year's pass rushers and would be a significant upgrade over Arizona's current outside linebackers, Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield.”
New York Giants (No. 19)
2012 record: 9-7
Head coach: Tom Coughlin (hired in 2004)
Reasoning: This was by far the lowest spot for Ansah on any mock drafts and the two mock drafts that listed him in this position both stated it wouldn’t be surprising if Ziggy was off the board by this point. That said, they noted the way the Giants love pass rushers.
“Sticking with my guns that the Giants grab a pass rusher, except I definitely didn't see Ansah falling here when I started writing this thing,” admitted Will Brinson of NFLDraftScout.com on a mock draft that was also posted on CBSSports.com. “I'm not even sure I think it's likely to happen, but if they get a shot to pair Ansah with Jason Pierre-Paul, they're going to do it."
Be ready just in case
Jacksonville (No. 2)
2012 record: 2-14
Head coach: Gus Bradley (hired in 2013)
Reasoning: Only one of the pro football experts had Ansah being taken this early but SI.com’s Peter King is a reputable voice. His mock draft comes out on Wednesday but in his “Monday Morning Quarterback” article he said that was where he was planning to have Ziggy.
“I think you could make the argument that this could be the riskiest first round in NFL history,” King wrote, pointing to Ziggy’s lack of experience.
Philadelphia (No. 4)
2012 record: 4-12
Head coach: Chip Kelly (hired in 2013)
Reasoning: Matt Smith of NFL.com said the Eagles might decide to go after Ansah here, particularly if Jacksonville selects Dion Jordan with the No. 2 pick.
“There isn't a lot of tape out there, but you can't deny what you see when you watch him play,” Smith wrote on his NFL.com mock draft. “He's an impact player, and if the Jags can take Jordan at No. 2, the Birds certainly can take Ansah at No. 4. Eric Fisher will get a long look, but ultimately Ansah is a player who can change the game."
New York Jets (No. 9)
2012 record: 6-10
Head coach: Rex Ryan (hired in 2009)
Reasoning: Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com believes Ryan might be the type of coach who can get the most out of Ansah.
"The Jets need an explosive edge rusher, and that's exactly what Ansah can be for them,” Jeremiah wrote on his NFL.com mock draft. “He's not an ideal outside linebacker, but Rex Ryan is creative enough to make it work."
Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or email@example.com. He can also be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.