With the seventh overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft next Thursday, the Arizona Cardinals intend on selecting a player that will make an impact on the team, both now and for years to come. The two positions that most believe will be targeted with that seventh pick are offensive tackle and outside linebacker.
With that pick, they have the chance to pick up a player from either position that will be very good. Most have Oklahoma's Lane Johnson going to the Cardinals, but a few have them taking BYU's Ezekiel Ansah. In a mock draft I participated in recently, he was the selection I made.
Why would he make sense for the Cardinals?
What does he do well?
He has great athleticism and size. He is versatile, having played all over the field in different positions, so scheme should not be an issue. He has an incredible motor during plays. He has great closing speed. Despite his inexperience, run defense is still strong, as he can disengage from blockers to take down the ball carrier.
What does he need to improve?
He does not have really any pass rushing moves yet. He uses his speed and strength. He is still raw, having played only three years of football at all. He originally went to BYU from his native country of Ghana hoping to play basketball.
Does he fit for the Cardinals?
The one concern I have is size. To play on the edge, he is a little on the big side, weighing at about 270. However, John Lott asks almost all rookies to cut weight anyway. Sam Acho plays at 257, so "Ziggy" would be fine after cutting 10 pounds or so.
Since the Cardinals need help in the pass rush, the concern would be his lack of technique. Luckily, the Cardinals employ Tom Pratt, a pass rushing specialist who has worked with some of the best.
Ansah has shown to be very coachable, and with the strides he has made in just a short time, combined with his motor and athleticism, there is no reason to believe that he would make impact plays even in his first year.
I have read comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul and even Javon Kearse, even though they were 4-3 ends. Nonetheless, he showed the versatility to be able to play all over the field. Ideally Ansah would be playing 3-4 OLB, but even if it turned out that he was better suited for 3-4 defensive end, I have no doubt that he would make a huge contribution there.
Bottom line? I would be thrilled to see Ansah drafted by the Cardinals at number seven. The fact that he still has improvement to make despite the impact he has had makes me think that he would be a great match.
Is he absolutely the one guy I want? Not necessarily. Right now, I would not have a problem with Ansah, Lane Johnson or Chance Warmack. But Ansah is the only one of those three I get excited about.
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