Mandatory Credit: Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Draft Profile: Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, Brigham Young

Anyone who watched the Senior Bowl on Saturday heard Ezekiel Ansah’s name called more than any other player on the field. The defensive end from BYU was all over the field, getting pressure on the quarterback, and chasing down runners. “Ziggy”, as he’s known by some, has emerged as an NFL prospect despite only picking up the game of football in the past few years. In fact, Ansah couldn’t even imagine playing football just 5 years ago.

As told in an article by Jeff Benedict of, Ansah was “discovered” by a Mormon missionary from Brigham Young who was on a mission in Ghana. Ansah was a teaching assistant at the local K-12 school, and the BYU student, Ken Frei, invited him to play basketball. He knew that Ghanaians aren’t known for being great at basketball, as Ghana is most certainly a soccer country. Ansah instantly proved him wrong, and threw a ball off the glass and slammed it home for an alley-oop, emulating the NBA players he hoped to one day join on the court. Frei would convince Ansah to convert to Mormonism, and would also persuade him to attend Brigham Young. Ansah showed up on campus, and was in for a total culture shock. Everything in Utah was much different than Ghana, and Ziggy took some time to get acclimated.

Ansah strived to be an athlete, he tried out for the basketball and failed on two occasions. He also tried to walk on to the track team, and did not run well, posting a best that was well short of a national level runner. It would not be long before he heard the same advice from many of the people he met in Provo.

“You should try out for the football team.”

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Ansah didn’t have a great first impression of the sport of football, as he felt it was to violent and crazy. He admitted to coach Bronco Mendenhall that he had no idea how to play the sport, or lift weights. However, his size and athleticism earned him a spot on the team. According to the story, Ansah was first put into a game as an “experiment,” and asked to play coverage on a kickoff. He failed to tackle the ball carrier, but absolutely destroyed multiple blockers as if they weren’t there. It was then that the BYU coaching staff began to realize they might have a special player on their hands.

Ansah would go on to be a defensive lineman and linebacker for the Cougars, but wouldn’t start a game until his senior season. He took full advantage of his year as a starter, and racked up 13 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and plenty more QB pressures. He might not be a true track athlete, but he certainly possesses a level of athleticism that’s rare for a defensive lineman. At 6’5, 274 lbs, he doesn’t sacrifice size for this speed, either. He is compared by CBSSports to Jason Pierre-Paul, and while he’s not quite as elite of a pass rusher as the former USF Bull, he is a better run defender. His main weakness is his lack of football IQ, as he’s still learning the game having only picked it up 2 years ago. Ansah has an uber-high ceiling, and doesn’t have the same wear and tear that more experienced defensive ends may have.

Ansah is shooting up draft boards, and is likely now a borderline first round pick. The Buccaneers likely won’t be drafting at the time he’s likely to come off the board unless a trade is made, but don’t be surprised if this is a player the Buccaneers pursue. From all accounts, he is a high character young man with a high motor and a ton of potential. So, what do you think? Would you like to see the Buccaneers take a pass rusher like Ansah early in the 2013 draft? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Ty Kampen

    Another interesting thing I saw on twitter about Ansah. In the Senior Bowl,he played as a 4-3 DE. Until this week, he never played that postion as a true edge rush passer. At BYU he was a 5 technique in a 3-4. In the Senior Bowl practices all week, his inexperience at the new position showed. He was up and down during practice, but in one short week of learning and training he was able to put it together to have a monster day at the Senior Bowl. 7 Tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 pass defense and at least 3 QB pressures that I saw. Not to mention being the first down on kick off coverage, getting a tackle on special teams–this kid laid it all on the line and played his heart out.
    Another interesting thing about him – he wasn’t even on a football scholarship at BYU. He was on an ACADEMIC scholarship (required to maintain a 3.7 GPA every semester) in Actuarial Science, ie Statistics. So, he is a very smart player, has proven to be adaptive, and is just a plain good, humble kid. In today’s NFL culture of nighclub fights, DUI’s and just bad behavior, it would be refreshing to see such a high character guy that can actually play get a chance.

    • Leo

      Absolutely! The sky is the limit with this young man. I’m excited to see what he does in the NFL, no matter where he goes. He’s a hard worker and a pure athlete, and seems like he’s very smart and picks up the game very quickly.

  • DL

    He is also graduating in actuarial science.

  • GreekSophistry

    I saw him play every game this year. He’s amazing. He got better every game, along with his bookend Kyle Van Noy (you’ll hear a lot about him next year). With those two, BYU was awesome defensively. Sorry for you Tampa Bay fans, I don’t think he’ll be around by the time the Bucs get to draft. I’d like to see the Seahawks get him, but probably Detroit from what I’m reading.

  • Russ Miller

    WIth run-stoppers like Da’Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn still locked up for the next couple of seasons on their rookie deals, I don’t see the Bucs drafting a defensive end high this season. If they get outbid for Michael Bennett, they should draft a defensive end somewhere to provide more depth with T’eo-Nesheim, who should be cheap enough to re-sign easily. Schiano and Dominik don’t seem to be easily infatuated with draftees who don’t have a long resume, though, and I doubt they’d spend a first or second rounder on someone who only started for a year and didn’t rack up any awards, wasn’t a team captain, etc. I like the idea of the Bucs trading down a bit in the first round and taking Johnthan Banks, who was a team captain. Provided they also find a tight end, either in the first two or three rounds or in free agency, then they can start selecting players whom they wouldn’t need to start right away. I still see them selecting two corners and a tight end before they look at other positions.