Welcome to Tuesday 10, where every Tuesday over the summer, we'll count down 10 Detroit Lions who are vital to the team's success in 2013. Today, we continue things by examining number four, a rookie defensive end who's talent and high ceiling could help the entire defense achieve greatness.
Perhaps it's a good thing that Detroit Lions rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah has played in few football games. Perhaps that way, he'll never truly grasp the enormity of what he's about to go through.
Everyone now knows the whole story of Ansah, 24, who famously has a limited football background due to growing up in Ghana. He came to the United States mostly for education and to pursue a career in basketball at Brigham Young University. After getting cut from basketball team twice, he ended up picking up track and football due to his fantastic frame and speed. Thanks to that same impressive body, he became a hot NFL prospect in short order.
Consequently, Ansah's tools proved too irresistible for the Lions to pass up with the fifth overall pick last April, so they snapped him up, especially after he dominated the Senior Bowl with the benefit of Detroit coaching. Immediately, though, the concerns still began to roll in from experts. Would Ansah really be able to learn the intricacies of the game? Was he too much of a project to be counted on to replace Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch?
As the saying goes, you can't teach size. With a 6 foot 5 frame, an impressive wingspan and extraordinary length to match speed, Ansah is a match up problem for nearly every offensive tackle, no matter how established. The question is, though, can he learn the proper technique in enough time to play the role the Lions need right away?
Should Ansah play as he did in the preseason opener, where he recorded a touchdown on the fourth snap of the game and showed fantastic instinct against the pass and run, it might not matter how he processes an NFL defense. Bubba Baker said it best to his young protege when he recently met Ansah, "You only have to master one thing, rushing the quarterback." It was the mantra which helped Baker have a breakout year in 1978 and score 23 sacks with the Lions.
It could be the same formula which helps Ansah dominate from day one, too. Instead of worrying about all the complications, just keep things simple and chase the man with the ball. If Ansah does that and plays loose in the process, he'll help Detroit's defense immensely and the team might not notice a drop off from Avril and Vanden Bosch. Should Ansah contribute statistically from day one, Detroit's defense will likely look great across the board.
That will certainly happen if Ansah does as Baker requests and simply trusts his instincts. Continuing to remain oblivious of his high pressure NFL surroundings would help, as well.
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