Will Ezekiel Ansah be a Lion in 2018?
A Detroit Lions first round pick in 2013, fifth all-time in sacks for the Lions, two double digit sack years, one Pro Bowl, and Ezekiel Ansah may be on another team in 2018? Yes, it is very possible. Ansah is coming off his second best year as a pro and made $12 million dollars this year doing so. But with a new head coach coming into Detroit, there is definitely an argument to be made if there is a reason to keep Ansah under a new contract in which he will most likely ask for $10 + million a year.
I have watched five of Ansah’s games from the 2017 season and have prepared an in-depth report discussing how effective Ansah is and what the Lions should do about him this off-season.
Name: Ezekiel Ansah
Position: 5-7 Tech DE
DOB: 05-29-1989 (28 years old)
College: Brigham Young
Drafted: 2013 – 1st round – Detroit Lions
Former Team: Detroit Lions
Games Played: 73
Games Started: 71
2017 – Knee (Weeks 1-9), Back (Weeks 10-11 OUT, 12), Ankle (Weeks 14-15)
2016 – No Injuries
2015 – Back (Week 3), Groin (Week 4), Shoulder (Week 5), Toe (Week 11), Hamstring (Week 14)
2014 – Knee (Weeks 3-4), Toe (Weeks 7-10), Elbow (Week 13)
2013 – Head (Week 1), Abdomen (Weeks 4-5), Ankle (Weeks 8, 9-11 OUT, 12), Shoulder (Week 15)
2017- Led team with 12 sacks and had 44 tackles, 1 FF, and 1 FR
2016 – 2 sacks and 35 tackles
2015 – Led team with 14.5 sacks (3rd in NFL), had 47 tackles, 1 PD, 4 FF, and 2 FR
2014 -7.5 sacks, 51 tackles, and 3 FF
2013 – Led team with 8 sacks and had 30 tackles, 1 PD, and 2 FF
Career – 44 sacks, 207 tackles, 10 FF, 3 FR, and 2 PD.
Weight: 271 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.63
10-yard split: 1.63
Arm Length: 35 1/8’’
Hand Size: 10 1/4’’
3 Cone: 7.11
Short Shuttle: 4.26
Broad Jump: 118’’
Bench Press: 21 reps
2017- @ NYG 09/18, @ BAL 12/03, @ TB 12/10, @ CIN 12/24, vs GB 12/31
Best: Athletic Ability and Upfield Burst
Worst: Competitive Toughness, Mental Processing, vs Run, UOH, Pursuit
Athletic Ability: 4/7
Mental Processing: 3/7
Competitive Toughness: 3/7
Play Speed: 3/7
Play Strength: 3/7
Upfield Burst: 4/7
Pass Rush: 3/7
Vs Run: 3/7
Ansah is a fifth-year player who started 14 games for the Detroit Lions in 2017. Under defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, the Lions implemented a 4-3 scheme, with occasional 4-3 under looks, which allowed him to display his ability to rush the passer and was given the freedom to rush from a 3-point stance or standing up. He has good size due to having above average height, weight, arm length, and hand size. He displays solid athletic ability as he has good quickness and explosiveness while demonstrating solid agility and balance.
Ansah has solid upfield burst due to his ability to key the ball, get off, and explode upfield in his first three steps. This has allowed him to put immediate stress on an offensive lineman. He has solid ability to reset the line of scrimmage due to his upfield burst and athletic ability. Ansah is average against split zone, outside zone, toss, and sweep to his side due to his lateral agility, quickness, and balance to maintain outside leverage and force the runner back inside. In split zone, a tight end is no match as he simply overpowers them at the point of attack. He displays a solid pass rush plan as he has some finesse and power moves that will allow him to reach the quarterback when used properly/consistently. Ansah will consistently beat a tight end on passing plays and force the quarterback off his spot.
He displays an adequate ability to play against the run as he does not stay low, has below average use of hands as his timing and hand placement is off which leads to marginal strength, adequate in run scheme recognition, and has below average gap integrity as he is unable to maintain leverage against solid – top tier offensive linemen and does not keep his shoulders square. Ansah has an adequate ability to shed blocks as he does it after the running back has already hit the hole or he does not shed well enough to cross face and separate from the offensive lineman.
Ansah displays adequate competitive toughness and play strength against the run as he does not compete physically at a high level every play, he does not win his 1 v 1 reps, and he cannot effectively be either a 1-gap or 2-gap player for 2 downs every game. He is not in on goal-line situations due to adequate competitive toughness and play strength and late in the season was used more on 3rd downs than 1st and 2nd downs. He has below average ability to rush the passer consistently as he has a pass rush plan, but fails to use it consistently and at a high level. Ansah has marginal use of hands as a pass rusher as he will sometimes not work half a man, has marginal timing and hand placement, and poor strength when trying both a finesse or power move. He needs to improve upon using his hands against running backs when they try and cut block as he fails to defeat them.
He displays marginal competitive toughness when rushing the passer as he does not compete at a high level, takes plays off, and does not continue to fight if his first move fails him. Ansah has adequate play strength as a pass rusher as he does not consistently win his 1 v 1 reps, his pass rush plan succeeding is not consistent, and he needs to be in a 5 – wide 9 technique in order to succeed. He has an adequate pursuit ability as early on in games he will show good effort, but as the game goes on he will regress and give adequate angles, effort, and ability to tackle in space.
Overall, Ansah is a 5-7 tech role player you win because of due to his athletic ability and upfield burst which can be combined with an adequate pass rush to get the job done in passing situations. His lack of consistency as a pass rusher, adequate competitive toughness, mental processing, and ability to play the run limits him from being a starting defensive end.
Ansah had six sacks in 2017 against two opponents whose offensive lines were ranked 20th or worse, according to Football Outsiders, the Bengals – 20th and the Packers – 28th. Although yes, Ansah still is talented to get six other sacks on the season and one should not completely discredit the other six sacks in two games; the emphasis should be on the contract and whether or not Ansah is a $10 + million dollar defensive end.
Some of the biggest and best defensive ends earn over $10 million dollars a year and it is well deserved, but the biggest reason why Cam Jordan, Everson Griffin, and Calais Campbell make that much is their ability to play both the run and pass. Matt Patricia, although not confirmed, will have a heavy emphasis on his defensive ends being able to play both the run and pass effectively and with the Lions having a lot of cap space ($46.5 million currently on OTC) he will be able to find the right pieces for his puzzle. If Ansah is willing to take a team friendlier deal, say $5.5-7.0 million avg./year) and play his role to his potential; then the Lions should bring him back, add other pieces to the defensive line through FA, and draft some young talent to develop with Patricia. This would be the best possible solution for both Ansah and the Lions as Ansah is able to stay on a team who he has played for his entire career, play for a new coach/scheme, still earn a nice paycheck, and the Lions are able to add more pieces to their defense.
Time will surely tell what happens between Ansah, Patricia, and General Manager Bob Quinn, but one thing is for certain, Ansah will get paid by someone this offseason.