Steelers Draft 2013: Is Ezekiel the Ansah? Not at 17

USA TODAY Sports

For as impressive a player BYU's Ezekiel Ansah is, he's a better athlete, and that combination doesn't wait 16 picks to be taken in the NFL draft. The Steelers likely would be happy to take him at 17, but he isn't likely to fall that far, particularly after what's expected to be a very impressive Combine performance.

Reviewing the performance of BYU DE/OLB Ezekiel Ansah in his team's Poinsettia Bowl game against San Diego State last season, a few things really stood out.

He looks like either the largest outside linebacker in the world, or he looks like one of the quickest off-the-snap defensive ends in the world.

Those are the kinds of things that make a guy get drafted pretty early in the first round. While Steelers fans are going to love the idea of this multi-faceted monster with a ceiling higher than the Sistine Chapel, the problem is, the Steelers won't be the only team reviewing this film.

He's expected to have a particularly impressive showing at the Combine, and when he does, there's little chance he'll last until No. 17 overall.

On the downside, for as impressive his initial burst is, he seems to only understand one thing after the ball is snapped; he's to hit someone, then find the ball. I think he looked much more impressive standing up than in a stance, even to the point I'd think playing a weakside linebacker would be how he'll contribute the fastest to an NFL team. His size, though, with that kind of explosion, is why he's being understandably compared to Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul.

What really impressed me wasn't just his physical attributes but how BYU used him. They really set him up well, running him in stunts and crosses from a five and seven technique position, as well as standing up. He looks much faster laterally than horizontally, and perhaps that's because he seemed to move faster when he was part of a particular blitz.

Almost like if he knew exactly what he was going to do at the start of a play, and it wasn't just a straight rush, he was great.

That would point squarely to his lack of experience; he didn't play competitive football until 2010.

Where he really excels, and this is why he won't last until 17, is in space. When he dropped into a middle zone or had spy responsibilities, he looked very comfortable. Not that his pass rush skills weren't good, he just didn't look as polished in anything more than a straight rush. He has great vision, though, swatting down a few passes and timing his jumps well.

He very well could be a great playmaker at the next level. If he even sniffs 4.69 in the 40 at the Combine, though, he won't last any longer than another Steelers hopeful prospect did last year; Dontari Poe.

Let's keep in mind, too, Mel Kiper, the man who's putting Ansah to the Steelers at 17 in his most recent mock draft, is the same guy who gave Steelers fans hope about Poe falling to 24 last year.

He was taken No. 11 overall by Kansas City.


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